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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Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.