The Morning Mix

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OK folks, before we begin the first Morning Mix of the week, we have a special public service announcement: CANNONBALL!

If you have any questions you want to submit to the CBT Mailbag, you can submit them to @CBTonNBC all this week.

But we have a lot to get to on the news front. So lets hit the links.

Monday’s Top Games:
6:30 p.m. – No. 20 Notre Dame @ No. 14 Cincinnati
7:00 p.m. – No. 5 Indiana @ Penn State
8:45 p.m. – Northwestern State @ Sam Houston State
 
 
Top Stories:
Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum to miss 8-10 weeks with broken fifth metatarsal in left foot: This is unquestionably the biggest injury of the season. The No. 2 scorer in the nation will be sidelined for the entire Patriot League regular season, thanks to a foot injury he suffered during the Mountain Hawks 59-55 loss at VCU.

No. 6 Kansas clamps down late to hold off Temple, 69-62: The Jayhawks moved their home court win streak to 30 with the 69-62 victory over the Owls thanks to a staunch defensive effort during the game’s most tenuous stages.

UVA cools Heels, wins ACC opener: The Cavalier’s stuck to their brand of basketball and were able to slow down the North Carolina Tar Heels en route to a 61-52 victory in Charlottesville on Sunday.

Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk showed why he’s the most improved player in the country: The 7-foot Canadian is averaging a team-high 17.1-ppg and has played his best basketball against the Bulldogs’ toughest opposition. Against Santa Clara on Saturday he poured in a career-high 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, notching his first double-double of his career against D-I opponents.

Gregory Echenique proves his value in No. 16 Creighton’s win: As much as the Bluejays lean on the talents of Doug McDermott, big-man Gregory Echenique is an extremely important piece to Creighton’s puzzle.

Bizarre finish gives Marquette 49-48 win over No. 15 Georgetown: Greg Whittington had a chance to tie the game by sinking three foul shots with 1.4 seconds remaining. After sinking the first two, Marquette head coach Buzz Williams called a timeout, which promptly iced Whittington, causing him to miss the final attempt. Marquette grabbed the rebound and won the game.

Jim Boeheim laments coaching carousel but doesn’t blame coaches for making moves: We’ll say it again. Jim Boeheim gives the best press conference in the entire country. Following Syracuse’s 55-44 win at South Florida on Sunday, the colorful head coach sounded off on the coaching carousel and conference realignment.

2013 center Dakari Johnson commits to Kentucky, adds to greatest recruiting class ever? the nation’s top center Dakari Johnson (Montverde Academy/New York, N.Y.) announced live on ESPNU following a win over Jabari Parker and Simeon Career Academy that he has committed to Kentucky. Along with the Harrison twins, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis and potentially Andrew Wiggins and/or Julius Randle, this may very be the best recruiting class of all time.

Florida State’s Okaro White executes the perfect in-bounds ally-oop (VIDEO): This is how you execute an in-bounds play. Well, scratch that. This is how you should never defend an in-bounds play.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– Much of Tennessee’s scoring troubles have been linked to the absence of big-man Jerron Maymon, who has been struggling with back issues all season long. But now it gets worse. Maymonn has decided to forgo the season and take a redshirt year. (College Basketball Talk)

– Eastern Washington guard Justin Crosgile has left the team for personal reasons. The New Jersey-native wants to return closer to home so he can be near his 3-year old son. (Big Sky BBall)

– Recruiting guru Evan Daniels believes Andrew Wiggins, the nation’s top recruit, will select Florida State over Kentucky. (Kentucky Sports Radio)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Michigan State’s Branden Dawson punched Purdue’s Travis Carrol in the midsection. Here is the video. For some odd reason Michigan State and Purdue are acting like it never happened. I don’t think it’s a huge deal, but it most certainly did happen. (The Victory Formation)

– The Kansas Jayhawks gutted out a tough win against Temple thanks in large part to the closing ability of a handful of players. (Need I Say Moore?)

– Run The Floor takes a stab at understanding why North Carolina is struggling so much. (Run The Floor)

– Colorado had a rough four-day trip in Arizona and now sit at 0-2 in Pac-12 play. (The Dagger)

– It’s never too early for some NIT bracketology (Big Apple Buckets)

– Northwestern is not very good, but this is still incredible: Minnesota’s Austin Hollins scored 17 points over a quick stretch of four minutes. That’s ridiculous. (From The Barn)
 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Got to 1:15 of this highlight to see the best ally-oop of the season. Once you are done, watch the entire highlight video. It’s wildly entertaining.


 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Breusewitz dunk? Yup. Breusewitz dunk.


 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
This is an amazing dunk. Even better, the team doing the dunking is the Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelinas. Best name in D-II sports.

 
 
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USC lands four-star 2018 guard Elijah Weaver

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USC landed an important commitment for its future on Monday night as four-star Class of 2018 guard Elijah Weaver.

Regarded as the No. 35 overall prospect in the Rivals’ national Class of 2018 rankings, the 6-foot-5 Weaver gives the Trojans a floor leader to build around for the future as he provides great size in the backcourt. Capable of playing multiple guard spots, Weaver has a lot of upside for a program that has done a very solid job of developing backcourt talent under head coach Andy Enfield.

Weaver’s commitment is also important for the Trojans because it comes despite the looming FBI investigation that the program is dealing with thanks to former assistant coach Tony Bland. USC had recently lost a four-star commitment from forward J’Raan Brooks, so the commitment of Weaver is a huge momentum boost for them as they get right back on track in the Class of 2018.

With Weaver in the mix, USC now owns three four-star pledges in the 2018 class as he joins four-star forward Taeshon Cherry and four-star guard Kevin Porter.

Jim Larranaga believes he’s ‘Coach-3’ in FBI investigation

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Despite losing key contributors Davon Reed and Kamari Murphy from last season’s NCAA tournament team, the Miami Hurricanes are expected to be a player both within the ACC and nationally this season. But instead of having the focus solely on the likes of JaQuan Newton, Bruce Brown and Lonnie Walker, Jim Larrañaga’s program is also having to deal with the impact of the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball.

While no one connected to the Miami men’s basketball program was arrested last month, the program is referenced in the FBI report. On Monday, Larrañaga stated during a press conference that he believes that he is “Coach-3” in the FBI report. Larrañaga also maintained his innocence, saying that he had done nothing wrong while also being thankful that none of his assistant coaches were involved.

“It’s been a strain, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually,” Larrañaga said according to the Palm Beach Post. “It’s something that’s there. I have to deal with it. I have the support of my wife and a wonderful family. I have the support of the university, my staff and players.”

According to the FBI report, “Coach-3” requested that payments totaling $150,000 be funneled to “Player-12” in order to ensure his commitment to their university. It has been reported that “Player-12” was 2018 five-star prospect Nassir Little, who has also stated that he had done nothing wrong. Two of the schools recruiting Little at the time, Arizona and Miami, have been entangled in the FBI investigation to varying degrees.

While Miami has not had anyone connected to its program arrested, Arizona assistant coach Emmanuel “Book” Richardson was one of the four Division I coaches were were indicted. As a result Little removed both Arizona and Miami from consideration before ultimately committing to North Carolina earlier this month.

There’s no telling what the FBI investigation will ultimately uncover, which for the schools involved could take a heavy toll not only for the 2017-18 season but for future years as well. The FBI case has been comparatively quiet since the first set of indictments, with future moves likely to be influenced by what authorities learn from the ten individuals named in the first announcement.

Miles Bridges discusses being offered money during recruiting process

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With the FBI launching an investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball last month, the entire sport has found itself under the microscope. Ten people, including four Division I assistant coaches, were arrested and there’s no telling just how long the FBI’s investigation will last or what information it will produce.

Michigan State forward Miles Bridges is considered by many to be the leading candidate for national Player of the Yeah honors, and he had the opportunity to turn pro after a good freshman season. But Bridges made the decision to return to East Lansing, and with that comes questions as to why he would do that as opposed to cashing in on his NBA potential as soon as possible.

In an interview with Brendan Quinn of The Athletic (subscription required) Bridges discussed a host of issues, including being offered money by people while going through the recruiting process.

“I mean, if you get caught, that might be the end of your career. I wanted to play in college really bad,” Bridges told Quinn. “I don’t know — materialistic things, they don’t really get to me. So when people were offering me money, I would say no right away, because I wanted to be able to live out my college experience. But really, I don’t know, it is hard, especially because I was so young at the time — 17.”

Given the ongoing investigation, high-profile players and teams will be on the receiving end of increased scrutiny even if they aren’t part of the FBI probe. It’s an unfair situation for a player like Bridges to deal with, as even in the actual cases of alleged wrongdoing the players themselves are essentially commodities whose services are being auctioned as opposed to the main characters looking to cash in.

Unfortunately, due to recent events a decision like the one made by Bridges will result in some questioning whether or not the player received something from the school or another entity/individual. And that’s a tough — and unfair — thing for a young player to have to deal with.

Broken hand sidelines North Carolina PG Joel Berry II

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North Carolina’s defense of its national title will likely begin without its most important player, as it was announced on Monday that senior point guard Joel Berry II will miss approximately four weeks due to a broken bone in his right hand.

Berry started at the point each of the last two seasons, earning Most Outstanding Player honors in April as the Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga to win the national title. As a junior, Berry averaged 14.7 points, 3.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game and started 37 of the 38 games in which he played. Berry shot 42.6 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three, with the latter percentage being the best on team amongst players who attempted at least two three-pointers per game.

Berry was named an NBC Sports Preseason Third-Team All-American in late September.

With Berry out of the lineup, North Carolina loses its floor general as well as one of their top perimeter shooters. Sophomore Seventh Woods and freshman Jalek Felton become more important options at the point as a result of Berry’s injury, and the team doesn’t lack for perimeter shooters either with Cameron Johnson, Brandon Robinson, Kenny Williams and freshman Andrew Platek all being capable of helping to pick up the slack.

North Carolina opens its regular season on November 10 against Northern Iowa.

Bill Self’s stance on Kansas/Missouri series remains unchanged

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Sunday afternoon in Kansas City, bitter rivals Kansas and Missouri got together on the basketball court for the first time since 2012, with the Showdown for Relief raising $1.75 million for recent hurricane victims. In what was an entertaining game, the Jayhawks won by the final score of 93-87 with point guard Devonté Graham leading the way for the winners with 25 points and ten rebounds.

Kansas finished the game with five players in double figures, including Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman (17 points) and center Udoka Azubuike (16). On the other side freshman Michael Porter Jr. paced four Tigers in double figures with 21 points while younger brother Jontay grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds off the bench.

However despite the excitement for the two rivals being on the same court in any capacity, Sunday’s meeting was different given the circumstances. Following the game Kansas head coach Bill Self was asked about the possibility of the two teams meeting in a regular season game, and he maintained the stance he’s held since Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC.

“I’m not going to say never, but I don’t think there’s been any change in our position as far as the university goes,” Self said following Sunday’s exhibition. “I’m the spokesman, I guess, on this but trust me, I’m not the only one that feels that way.”

While it would certainly benefit college basketball if Kansas and Missouri were to renew acquaintances down the line, it is understandable that Self — and maybe some others on the Kansas side of things — would have reservations. The programs, even with the arrival of Cuonzo Martin in Columbia and the freshman class led by the aforementioned Michael Porter Jr., are in different places right now.

The Jayhawks have their sights set on a 14th consecutive Big 12 title and a run at their first national title since 2008, Missouri is looking to fast-track a rebuilding process after struggling mightily under former head coach Kim Anderson. Yet with that being said, the state of the two athletic departments during realignment likely has more to do with the teams not playing each other.

Missouri was a school with options earlier this decade before joining the SEC, but that was not the case for Kansas. Had the Big 12 broken up as some believed would be the case, where would the Jayhawks have landed? Fortunately for the school the Big 12 survived the realignment craze, losing four schools (Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten) and adding TCU and West Virginia to get their membership number to ten.

Given that, the best bet for college basketball fans who want to see this rivalry played during the regular season may be to hope for the programs wind up in the same in-season tournament. Even better, how about the same NCAA tournament region?