The Morning Mix

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Last night was fun, wasn’t it? What’s that? You didn’t watch college hoops all night like I did? You totally missed out. But fear not, because The Morning Mix is here to get you caught up to speed on all the happenings.

But I’m warning you, last night was crazy. Or as the kids say these days “cray”.

Yeah, “ish” got “cray” last night.

Lets hit the links.

Thursday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 22 Michigan State @ Iowa
7:00 p.m. – Miami (Fl.) @ North Carolina
7:00 p.m. – Old Dominion @ George Mason (NBC Sports Network)
7:00 p.m. – Temple @ Xavier
8:00 p.m. – Southeast Missouri State @ Belmont
9:00 p.m. – No. 4 Arizona @ Oregon
9:00 p.m. – UMass @ Saint Louis
9:30 p.m. – UCLA @ Utah
10:00 p.m. – Santa Clara @ Loyola Marymount
11:00 p.m. – Saint Mary’s @ No. 9 Gonzaga
11:30 p.m. – Arizona State @ Oregon State
 
 
Read of the Day:
I love behind-the-scenes journal entries, and Rush the Court’s Danny Connor’s got an exclusive look at a day in the life of a Drexel Dragon. Sure the team is struggling, but this look at the daily grind is a great way to start your day. (Rush The Court)

Andy Glockner drops his first “Bubble Watch” of the season. I don’t always read bracket predictions, but when I do, I read “Bubble Watch”. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
Late Night Snacks: Wednesday proves why conference play is unmatched: Last night may have been the best night of hoops we’ve seen all season. All the scores and summaries can be found in “Late Night Snacks

CBT Podcast: Fighting for attention in the Big East, Pac-12, Big-Ten and A-10: With college football season coming to an end, Rob Dauster and I run through some of the major conferences and discuss which teams on the outside looking in might be able to break out through.

Boise State hands Wyoming their first loss on a buzzer-beater: Think about this. The Broncos defeated an undefeated, top-25 team on the road all while missing four player due to suspension. The win came on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jeff Elloriaga. This is the same Boise State team that went into Omaha and knocked off a ranked Creighton team in November.

Words cannot describe Jamaal Franklin’s dunk against Fresno State (VIDEO): Early in the second half of a close ball game, Jamaal Franklin finished a fast break by tossing himself an ally-oop from behind the 3-point line. Normal human beings can’t do that. Normal human beings wouldn’t even think of doing that. Jamaal Franklin clearly isn’t normal.

No. 8 Minnesota rolls through No. 12 Illinois, 84-67: The Gophers went into Champaign and smacked the Illini around, winning 84-67 and never looking back after a 17-5 first half run gave them a 28-21 lead. In a loaded Big-Ten, Minnesota has cemented themselves as the clear-cut third best team in the league behind Michigan and Indiana. Not too shabby for a team that was un-ranked in the preseason.

No. 25 New Mexico holds off No. 24 UNLV in tough Mountain West opener:Behind 23 points and eight rebounds from big man Alex Kirk, No. 25 New Mexico fought off a late push from No. 24 UNLV to win, 65-60 in Albuquerque. New Mexico had trouble sealing the game with free throws down the stretch, but Tony Snell sunk two with eight seconds remaining finally put the game out of reach.

Ben McLemore saves Kansas in thrilling overtime win against Iowa State: Redshirt freshman Ben McLemore provided the Jayhawks with their signature moment of the season, a 3-pointer off the glass to tie the game at the end of regulation against Iowa State. The Jayhawks struggled at home against the Cyclones, but were given a boost from the dynamic scoring guard.

Michigan State’s Branden Dawson denies that he punched Purdue’s Travis Carroll: You will have to watch the footage to determine for yourself, but Michigan State sophomore Branden Dawson insists that he did not punch Purdue’s Travis Carroll in the midsection after going for a rebound during their game on Saturday.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping
– North Carolina’s Leslie McDonald is questionable for their game tonight against Miami because of a knee injury (The Sporting News)

– Duke’s Ryan Kelly injured his right foot on Tuesday against Clemson and no timetable has been set for his return, but he will definitely miss the Blue Devils” showdown with North Carolina State this weekend. (Duke Report)

– Laurence Bowers sprained the MCL in his right knee on Tuesday against Alabama and he will be forced to miss the Tigers’ next two games. (The Missourian)

– Illinois State head coach Dan Muller has suspended his second leading scorer Tyler Brown for “conduct detrimental to the program”. (Bloomington Pantagraph)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– A new team has emerged in the Ohio Valley Conference as a potential contender. The Colonels of Eastern Kentucky sent a strong message with a dominant win on the road at reigning league champions Murray State. (OVC Ball)

– Maryland’s loss to Florida State last night, their first since November 9th should be a reminder that the Terps are yet to officially arrive. (D1scourse.com)

– Dana O’Neil’s title really says it best: New league, same Butler. (ESPN)

– Great stuff from C.J. Moore regarding McLemore’s Miracle, Mario’s Miracle and the breakdown of the 3-point play that has saved Bill Self’s butt on more than one occasion. (Need I Say Moore)

– The ending to the Kansas/Iowa State game is reigniting the debate about fouling when you are up three. (Ames Tribune)

– North Carolina faces Miami tonight in a pivotal game for both teams. Tar Heels’ guard Reggie Bullock called a “players only” meeting on Monday to make sure everyone is on the same page. (ESPN Tarheel Blog)

– Now that the college hoops season is halfway done, Gary Parrish looks ahead to the final three months of play. (Eye on College Basketball)

– A good-read from our very-own David Harten on how Quinn Cook has gone from non-factor to x-factor. (Backboard Chronicles)

– Wake Forest defeated Virginia last night, which re-raises the question about Jeff Bzdelik’s success at Wake Forest. Is he nearing his end or just getting started? (College ChalkTalk)
 
 
Video(s) of the Night:
Ben McLemore banked in a 3-pointer with under five seconds left to send the game into overtime against Iowa State. The Jayhawks prevailed in the extra frame. (The Big Lead)


 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
This is just bizarre. Trevor Mbakwe successfully draws the charge, yet Brandon Paul’s dunk counted. I don’t get it. (The Mock Session)

 
 
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Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: