The Morning Mix

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Remember that dominant Florida team everybody was drooling over on Monday? Yeah, they lost last night, to Arkansas, by 11.

It was ugly.

You know what wasn’t ugly? The Michigan-Ohio State game.

It was beautiful.

But enough of my thoughts.

Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – St. Bonaventure’s @ No. 14 Butler
7:00 p.m. – No. 17 Cincinnati @ Providence
7:00 p.m. – No. 18 Minnesota @ No. 12 Michigan State
7:00 p.m. – Baylor @ No. 22 Oklahoma State
7:00 p.m. – No. 24 Marquette @ South Florida
7:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ Temple
7:00 p.m. – Delaware @ Towson
7:00 p.m. – Southern Miss @ Central Florida
7:00 p.m. – Connecticut @ St. John’s
7:05 p.m. – No. 16 Creighton @ Indiana State
7:30 p.m. – No. 11 Louisville @ Rutgers
8:00 p.m. – Memphis @ SMU
9:00 p.m. – No. 5 Kansas @ TCU
9:00 p.m. – Stanford @ No. 7 Arizona
9:00 p.m. – Air force @ No. 15 New Mexico
9:00 p.m. – Iowa @ Wisconsin
10:00 p.m. – Colorado State @ Nevada
11:00 p.m. – Boise State @ San Diego State
 
 
Read of the Day:
Old Dominion announced the firing of 12-year head coach Blaine Taylor yesterday. Taylor was instrumental in the growth of the Monarchs’ program and guided them to four NCAA tournament appearances. His firing comes as the team is struggling through a 2-20 season, and drinking problems from his past may have played a part. But the Universities handling of the situation makes this story both awkward and sad. Make sure you read this article from David Teel. (Newport News Daily-Press)

Read of the Day:
So ummm, Bill Simonson of MLive.com puts Indiana on blast. No, not the Hoosiers. The entire state. Yeah, it’s pretty outlandish. But speaking of the Hoosiers, Simonson believes the referees favor Crean and the Hoosiers and that Big-Ten referees hold personal grudges on certain coaches and take it out on them at Assembly Hall. Read this, but make sure you have your popcorn ready. (MLive.com)
 
 
Top Stories:
Tim Hardaway, Jr., No. 3 Michigan outlast No. 10 Ohio State in overtime thriller: It was billed as the top game of the night and it certainly delivered. Tim Hardaway Jr. hit three big 3-pointers in the second half and helped the Wolverines knock off the Buckeyes in overtime.

If Ohio State-Michigan taught us anything, it’s that college hoops is still great: College hoops is in a down year, right? There are not great teams, correct? Umm. Did you see the Ohio State vs. Michigan game last night? That was fantastic basketball.

VIDEO: Michael Snaer hits another buzzer-beater: For the third time in the last two weeks — and the fifth time in the past two seasons — Florida State star Michael Snaer hit a buzzer-beating game-winner in ACC play.

No. 2 Florida gets whooped by Arkansas, 80-69: Florida looked unstoppable heading in to the game last night against lowly Arkansas. Turns out Arkansas can shoot the ball pretty well, and things can go downhill when you are careless with the basketball. The Gators found out the hard way.

Wichita State loses third in a row, falls to 9-point underdog Southern Illinois: It seems like eons ago when we proclaimed that Wichita State had the goods to dethrone Creighton from the top of the MVC. And just like that, the Shockers find themselves out of the top-25 and losers of three straight.

Dick Vitale, Brad Nessler, Jay Bilas to be international voices of Final Four: Dick Vitale has had a storied broadcast career, but has never been able to call a Final Four on National Championship game. Things will change in 2013.

New Orleans chosen as host for Sun Belt Tournament through 2016: The city of New Orleans, fresh off hosting the 2012 Final Four and the 2013 Super Bowl, has been chosen as the host site for the Sun Belt men’s and women’s championship through 2016, the conference announced Tuesday. Hot Springs, Ark., had been the host site since 2009.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Northern Illinois freshman Akeem Springs has left the program due to “personal and basketball reasons”. (Hustle Belt)

– Tennessee forward Kenny Hall was arrested on Tuesday on charges of driving with a suspended license. Hall was pulled over at 5:05 a.m. for going 70 mph in a 55-mph zone. (The Tennessean)

– Montana forward Kevin Henderson has been suspended one game as a result of his DUI arrest on Sunday. (The Missoulian)

– The status of NC-State guard Lorenzo Brown for the Wolfpack’s Thursday night game against Duke is still uncertain. (Fayetteville Observer)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– A phenomenal list of the top-12 most watchable teams in the country. The Belmont Bruins are once again one of the most watchable teams in the country. The only problem is that they’re rarely on television. (Deadspin)

– You can cross Florida off the list of teams that still have a chance to finish undefeated in conference play. They were the favorites, too. (Eye on College Basketball)

– The latest installment of Andy Glockner’s Bubble Watch. You know what to do with this. (Sports Illustrated)

– On Monday, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel wrote that he honestly believed that the Florida Gators could beat the Orlando Magic, a bad pro team. On Tuesday, Florida lost to Arkansas, a bad SEC team, by 11. Bianchi’s Wednesday column should be rather entertaining. Here is his Monday column. (Orlando Sentinel)

– Some interesting numbers that shed light on just how much money Brad Stevens has earned as a result of Butler’s recent success. (USA Today)

– Jason Lisk explains why you shouldn’t worry about the RPI rankings when filling out your brackets. (The Big Lead)

– Kansas senator Michael O’Donnell has created a proposal that would force Wichita State and Kansas to play each other. Kansas State also included. I kinda like this. (Wichita Eagle)

– A great story about how Butler’s Erik Fromm uses the memories of his late father, who lost his battle with cancer this past weekend, to get him this difficult time. (Indianapolis Star)

– Did the NCAA approve the attorney expenses of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro? That what it looks like. I hope it isn’t true, but this is the NCAA were talking about. So it probably is. (USA Today)

– A solid-read on Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick, who has become one of the top players in the Big East this season. The Bearcats face Providence tonight, a school that Kilpatrick nearly attended. (Friar Basketball)

– UConn’s Ryan Boatright doesn’t watch ESPN much anymore because the “Journey to the Tourney” commercial reminds him that the Huskies aren’t eligible for the postseason this year. Daggonit. (New Haven Register)

– A nice profile piece on Otto Porter, who continues to carry th Georgetown Hoyas on his broad shoulders. (Washington Post)

– If you need help reading between the lines of the Blaine Taylor firing, I suggest you read this. (Mid-Major Madness)

– The Drexel Dragons have not lived up to expectations this season, but are trying to right the ship having won four of their last six games. On Thursday they play Old Dominion in the first game since the firing of Blaine Taylor. What are the chances the Drexel Dragons get derailed by an empowered 2-20 Monarchs team? (Philahoops.com)

– UConn legend Taliek Brown is back in Storrs finishing up his undergraduate degree. Brown was the lead guard on the 2003-2004 National Championship team. He’s also famous for sinking a 40-footer in double-overtime against Pittsburgh in the 2002 Big East Championship game. (Hartford Courant)

– To storm or not to storm, that is the question. The SEC issues fines to schools that have students storm the court. Some coaches like, some players love it. Others want it gone from the game. (USA Today)

– Midseason awards are tough to pick, but in the ACC, it’s a no-brainer for Coach of the Year. (Wilmington Star-News)
 
 
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Kentucky fans flood Facebook page of official John Higgins’ company with negative reviews

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Unhappy with how John Higgins performed at his part-time job, Kentucky fans did their best trash him at his full-time gig.

The Facebook page of the referee’s Omaha-based roofing company was flooded by Big Blue Nation with negative comments and reviews after they were displeased with the official’s work in the Wildcats’ Elite Eight loss to North Carolina.

Not only did fans leave obviously fake and vulgar comments on the page, they also deluged it with one-star reviews to drive down its average significantly.

Once again, the Internet is struck by its proportionality problem. What could be considered a silly bit of online pranking by a small minority suddenly turns into an avalanche of nastiness that could do real damage to someone’s life, business and family, given the importance of social media for companies in 2017. It becomes cruel when it reaches a level like this.

When there’s so many general complaints about the state of officiating in college basketball, it’s also not helpful to do something like this to one of the referees generally considered to be one of the country’s best. It’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for prospective future officials to follow the career path if it brings this level of negative attention to you off the court.

Report: North Carolina to miss out on NCAA events through 2022 if HB2 not addressed by Thursday

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North Carolina is in danger of losing out on hosting NCAA events through 2022 if the state does not make changes to HB2, the controversial so-called “bathroom bill” by Thursday afternoon, according to the leader of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.

“I have confirmed with a contact very close to the NCAA that its deadline for HB2 is 48 hours from now,” Scott Dupree, the head of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance, said, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “If HB2 has not been resolved by that time, the NCAA will have no choice but to move forward without the North Carolina bids.”

“The NCAA has already delayed the bid review process once and has waited as long as it possibly can, and now it must finalize all championship site selections through spring of 2022.”

The NCAA, as it reminded North Carolina last week, is making its determinations on hosts for events from 2018-2022 this week. There was movement last week at the North Carolina statehouse for a compromise on the bill, but that apparently stalled out, the News & Observer reported, though there remain efforts to make progress on a pact.

Should lawmakers not reach an agreement in time, the state’s flagship basketball programs will be without an NCAA tournament home-court advantage that they have often enjoyed. HB2 just this past year moved the first and second rounds out of the state and to South Carolina, where No. 2 seed Duke lost to the seventh-seeded Gamecocks in their home state.

Clearly, there’s much more to consider here than NCAA tournament implications, but it’s another reminder of the economic impact the bill has made in North Carolina. This week, The Associated Press estimated it will cost the state $3.76 billion over a 12-year period.

Baylor’s Freeman to graduate and transfer

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Baylor is losing one of its contributors over the past three seasons.

Al Freeman, a 6-foot-3 guard, will graduate and transfer to another school, the Bears announced Tuesday.

“Al has been a tremendous student-athlete and made great contributions to our program over the last four years, and we’re thrilled that he’s going to complete his degree at Baylor,” Bears coach Scott Drew said in a statement. “He’ll always be part of the Baylor family, and we’ll be rooting for him as he continues his career.”

Freeman, who redshirted his freshman year due to a broken wrist, started 57 games during his career in Waco and averaged 8.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He was a full-time starter as a sophomore, but made just 22 this past season and saw his minutes slashed.

As a graduate transfer, the Charlotte native will be immediately eligible at his next program for his final collegiate season.

Xavier sophomore Edmond Sumner declares for NBA Draft

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Xavier sophomore Edmond Sumner has declared for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent.

“First let me start by saying these three years at Xavier have been the best of my life,” Sumner said in a statement. “I have certainly been presented with some ups and downs but they have only served to make me a stronger person. This decision was very hard for me because of the love I have for X. After weighing my options with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft, fulfilling a lifelong dream. I want to thank Coach Mack and the rest of the staff for believing in me and giving me a chance when no one did! I’ll always be grateful for that. Xavier Nation I will always love you!”

Sumner, a 6-foot-6 point guard with dynamic athleticism and first round potential that averaged 15.0 points, but he is coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered in January. He’s likely to be a second round pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

This is a big loss for the Musketeers, but it’s one that they planned for. After his eruption last season, most expected him to put his name in the draft this season.

Duke freshman Harry Giles III declares for NBA Draft

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Harry Giles III has declared for the NBA Draft after playing just one season at Duke.

“Playing in the NBA has been my goal for as long as I can remember, and I’m so excited to take the next step in that journey,” Giles said. “My time at Duke has been a dream come true. I’ve built so many strong relationships here and I have so many people to thank, from my teammates and coaches to our medical staff and strength coach. I can’t understate how proud I am to be part of the Duke Basketball program forever.”

Giles played in 26 games for the Blue Devils. He started six games and averaged 3.9 points and 3.8 rebounds, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story with Giles. At one point considered to be the best player in the loaded Class of 2016, Giles has dealt with a pair of devastating knee injuries already. He underwent a third surgery right before the start of the season and never seemed like he was fully able to get back to being the player he was when he was in high school.

This is the right decision for Giles to make, as there is still some uncertainty regarding the health of his knees. Were his struggles due to the fact that he was tossed right into the middle of a college basketball season after having sat out for 14 straight months, or was this simply a result of knees that no longer allow him to be the player that he used to be?

He might still end up being a first round pick this year. At the very least, he’s make some guaranteed money if he can get into a camp. Maybe returning to school could have helped vault him into the lottery in 2018, but another year like this year would’ve firebombed his draft stock.

“With his uplifting personality and love for the game, Harry Giles has been a joy to coach,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He is only beginning to scratch the surface of how good he can be on the basketball court. Harry has an exciting NBA future ahead of him and we are here to fully support him as a member of our brotherhood.”

I know I’m not alone when I say I hope that Giles gets healthy and succeeds in the NBA.