The Morning Mix

Leave a comment

Marquette got rid of their bat problem.

Louisville got back on track.

Kansas won again.

Grambling State lost again.

That’s the hand we were dealt last night.

Let’s hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Wisconsin @ No. 11 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – No. 19 North Carolina State Virginia
7:00 p.m. – Stony Brook @ Albany
8:00 p.m. – Indiana State @ No. 15 Wichita State
9:00 p.m. – Kentucky @ No. 16 Ole Miss
9:00 p.m. – Nebraska @ No. 23 Minnesota
9:00 p.m. – North Carolina @ Boston College
10:00 p.m. – Nevada @ UNLV
 
 
Read of the Day:
Garry Parrish discusses Miami in his latest “Poll Attacks”. He applauded John Feinstein for ranking the ‘Canes at No. 5, blasts others who rank ‘Canes outside top-20. Sounds about right. Read it. (Eye on College Basketball)

Read of the Day:
Mike Lopresti of USA Today catches up with former-Butler star Ronald Nored, who is living the dream coaching high school hoops in Brownsburg, Indiana. Read it. (USA Today)
 
 
Top Stories:
The reign of terror ends for the Bradley Center Bat: The biggest story from the weekend was that a bat disrupted play during the Providence-Marquette game at the Bradley Center on Saturday. It really was a pretty hilarious sequence of events.Anyways, the bat was removed from the arena on Monday.

Marshall Henderson, the most entertaining villain in the country: The college hoops world hasn’t had a good “villain” character in a good long time. But Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss is becoming the guy everybody loves to hate. He’s arrogant, cocky, and colorful. But he’s also one of the game’s top players this season.

According to Rick Pitino, freshman Kevin Ware won’t be returning to the court anytime soon:Freshman guard Kevin Ware was suspended prior to the Cardinals’ Monday game against Pittsburgh. Following the win over the Panthers, Rick Pitino let it be known that Ware probably won’t be returning any time soon.

VIDEO: ECU’s Shamarr Bowden rains punches on UTEP player: ECU guard Shamarr Bowden has been suspended for one game following an incident during the Pirates’ loss o UTEP on Saturday. Bowden got tangled up with UTEP’s Konner Tucker,and during the scrum, threw punches that glanced off of Tucker’s head.

So how bad is Trevor Mbakwe’s wrist injury? The Minnesota center injured his wrist during the Gophers’ loss to Wisconsin on Saturday. Mbakwe says he won’t miss any game time, but with the Gophers amid a four-game losing streak, they cannot afford to lose their big man for any amount of time.

How concerned should Indiana be about Cody Zeller’s struggles? Indiana has looked like the best team in the Big Ten, a top five team and a national title contender all while Cody Zeller has looked somewhat pedestrian. Victor Oladipo is playing like an All-American, but is that why Zeller hasn’t played like Player of the Year?

There’s no rush for a 12th Big East team, because it doesn’t improve much: On Big East Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco told reporters that the conference is looking to add a 12th team after the recent losses of Boise State and San Diego State. But at this point, will it really matter? No potential member will improve the depleted conference.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– It was announced on Monday that North Carolina and Kentucky are going to renew their non-conference series. The two played each other last season, and after the hiatus this season, they will resume next season in Chapel Hill. (Cats Illustrated)

– Syracuse freshman Dajaun Coleman will miss the next four weeks due to knee surgery. (Syracuse.com)

– The SEC/Big East Challenge will not continue. This was the final year of the contract and the two conferences decided against renewing the event. (AL.com)

– UConn football commit Jordan Fuchs wants to play for the Huskies’ basketball team too. (Connecticut Post)

– Wisconsin big-man Frank Kaminsky remains a game-time decision against Ohio State because of an eye injury. (Bucky’s 5th Quarter)

– Bradley center Will Egolf was arrested for drug possession earlier in January. On Monday a man from South Peoria was charged with selling Vicodin to Egolf. (Peoria Journal Star)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– We shouldn’t blame Rick Pitino for being hesitant about handing over the reigns of the offense to Russ Smith, but he just might have to. (Courier-Journal)

– A handful of coaches from NYC-metro schools helped ring the NASDAQ closing bell. (New Jersey Hoops Haven)

– Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks college basketball stinks this season. Please tell me I’m not the only one who vehemently disagrees? (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

– Akron was hoping to wear a special uniform for “Social Media Night” against Ohio. They will still wear the jerseys, but the NCAA won’t allow them to put the @ZipsMBBTwitter handle on the uniforms. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Providence’s Bryce Cotton is just 27 points shy of eclipsing the 1,000-point plateau. This is a great-read on his voyage to 1,000. (Friar Basketball)

– Jeff Goodman saw five games in 31 hours. He has a lot of things he wants to get off of his chest. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Should Oklahoma State press more often? They certainly have the athletes to do so. Then why doesn’t Travis Ford employ the press more frequently? (Cowboys Ride for Free)

– In case you want more of Ole Miss’ Marshall Henderson (Which I know you do), Deadspin has the goods. (Deadspin)

– Virginia is likely to be planted firmly on the bubble come Selection Sunday. A win against North Carolina State tonight will definitely help. (Washington Post)

– What exactly does the absence of Dajuan Coleman do to the Syracuse frontcourt? (900 Irving)

– Anybody want to take a guess at how many NCAA bids the ACC gets? Could be three, could be five. A little consistency would help. (USA Today)

– A slide show of some of the better signs in attendance at Cameron Indoor Stadium for Maryland’s ACC farewell game against Duke. (The Blue Zone)

– Seriously, the staff at the Bradley Center had to call in pest control to remove a rogue bat of the rafters, and AC/DC was used in the process. (The Dagger)

– What’s the difference between this season’s Florida State team and the one that won the ACC last season? Defensive Toughness. (Rush The Court)
 
 
Video(s) of the Day:
This is from Russia, and is absolutely hilarious.


 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Arizona’s Carrick Felix wants in on the NCAA Slam Dunk Contest.


 
 
Dunk(s) of the Day:
Illinois State’s Tyler Brown wants in as well. I’m leaning towards Brown after this video.


 
 
Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

4-star center commits to Purdue

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.