The Morning Mix

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Last night we witnessed the single most shocking upset of the entire season. TCU got their first Big-XII conference win in program history, knocking off No. 5 Kansas. This upset leap-frogs Cal-Poly/UCLA and is a top contender for “Upset of the Year” along with Old Dominion’s victory over Virginia early in the year.

Let’s hit the links.

Thursday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 1 Indiana @ Illinois
7:00 p.m. – Clemson @ Virginia
7:00 p.m. – Jacksonville @ Mercer
8:00 p.m. – Belmont @ Murray State
8:00 p.m. – Arkansas State @ Middle Tennessee
8:30 p.m. – Oral Roberts @ Northwestern State
9:00 p.m. – North Carolina State No. 4 Duke
9:00 p.m. – No. 21 Missouri @ Texas A&M
9:00 p.m. – Washington @ UCLA
9:30 p.m. – Cal @ Arizona State
10:00 p.m. – Colorado @ No. 19 Oregon
11:00 p.m. – Pepperdine @ No. 6 Gonzaga
11:00 p.m. – Saint Mary’s @ Santa Clara
12:00 a.m. – Long Beach State @ Hawaii
 
 
Read of the Day:
Luke Winn’s Power Rankings feature a pictures of what looks to Bill Walton on a nature hike in the 1970’s. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
No. 5 Kansas loses to TCU, has their fatal flaw exposed: All of the offensive issues we’ve talked about when discussing Kansas finally came to a head last night. It is difficult to have faith in a team that struggles to score high percentage shots on a consistent basis.

Toledo’s Nathan Boothe downs Miami (OH) with buzzer-beating three (VIDEO): Freshman center Nathan Boothe is an unlikely candidate to take the game-winning shot for Toledo. But as fate would have it, the ball landed in the hands of the 6-foot-9 center, and he sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to propel the Rockets over the Redhawks last night.

No. 22 Oklahoma State wins another thriller, this time in OT vs. Baylor: Michael Cobbins blocked an A.J. Walton shot in the paint, and Markel Brown raced coast-to-coast, scoring on a driving lay up in overtime to propel the Cowboys to another dramatic victory. This team isn’t always consistent, but they’ve proven that they can come up big in crunch time.

Indiana State blows out No. 16 Creighton, tied for 2nd in Missouri Valley: This is exactly why the Missouri Valley Conference is one of the most entertaining leagues in the country. one day after a lowly Southern Illinois beat Wichita State, the Shockers third in a row, Indiana State dominated No. 16 Creighton, on its way to a 76-57 victory. The Sycamores now find themselves in second place in the conference and added another good win to their tournament resume.

Keith Appling injures shoulder as No. 8 Michigan State beats No. 18 Minnesota: Freshman guard Gary Harris fought through back pain, and Keith Appling injured his shoulder, but the Spartans were able to hang on to defeat the Gophers 61-50. With guard Travis trice missing the game due to a concussion, backcourt depth could be an issue for Sparty down the road.

No. 17 Cincy learns hard way Providence isn’t a pushover: The Friars are not a tournament team. Not NCAA, NIT or CIT. But they certainly aren’t a team you can sleep-walk against on their home court. Mic Cronin’s Bearcats learned that the hard way last night.

Dickie V to call Indiana-Michigan State with Magic Johnson: Just a day after news comes out that Dick Vitale will be broadcasting his first Final Four for ESPN International, it was announced that Dickie-V will work the Indiana-Michigan State game on February 19th alongside Mike Tirico and Spartan legend Magic Johnson.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– It was announced yesterday that South Carolina State head coach Tim Carter had resigned effective immediately. No reason was given for his resignation. Carter was in his fifth season as head coach but the Bulldogs are 4-17 this season, with two of those wins coming against non-Division-I programs. (Times and Democrat)

– The Los Angeles Police Department is looking for a a former LAPD officer suspected in the shootings of a Cal State Fullerton womens assistant coach and her fiance. (Sports Illustrated)

Read More: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-basketball/news/20130207/cal-state-fullerton-coach-fiance-killed-ex-cop-suspected.ap/#ixzz2KBsrsMro

– As mentioned, a bunch of Spartans got banged up last night against Minnesota. Ketih Appling felt his shoulder pop. Branden Dawson may have suffered an ankle injury and Adreian Payne may have suffered a broken nose. (MLive.com)

– Duke freshman Josh Hairston has been diagnosed with an arm infection following a cut he sustained during the Wake Forest game and is doubtful for the Blue Devil’s pivotal showdown against NC-State. (Duke Hoop Blog)

– New Mexico State senior forward Tyrone Watson was arrested and charged for allegedly attacking another student during a January party. (Las Cruces Sun-Times)

– It was announced yesterday that Iowa State junior guard Maurice Jones is not eligible to play for the Cyclones this season. Jones arrived on campus in October after transferring out of Southern Cal. But he left the school in poor academic standing and was denied eligibility. (Ames Tribune)

– Albany’s leading scorer Mike Black sprained his ankle last night in the Danes’ blowout win over UMBC. His status for Saturday’s game against Maine is uncertain. (Albany Times-Union)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– What should we make of Indiana State? They have wins over Miami, Ole Miss, Wichita State and now Creighton, yet have still found a way to lose eight games. (The Dagger)

– We won’t know about the status of Syracuse’s Jams Southerland until Friday, but it’s unlikely that he returns this season. If that’s the case, can the Orange still win the Big East? (Rush The Court)

– Mike DeCourcy provides some good words on Belmont guard Ian Johnson, one of the most underrated and unheralded guards in the country. (Sporting News)

– Rebounding margins are a statistic that’s commonly thrown around on telecasts without properly breaking down the percentages. After all, offensive and defensive rebounds are not made equal. (KenPom Blog)

– Murray State and Belmont face off tonight in the marquee game of the OVC season. But Belmont fans aren’t too happy that this is the biggest game of the season. They were hoping to get Creighton in BracketBusters. They didn’t. (Belmont Byrd Cage)

– Duke and NC-State face off tonight in a rematch of their early January game in which the Wolfpack knocked off the No. 1 Blue Devils in Raliegh, 84-76. The two teams are approaching the rematch with different mindsets. (Fayetteville Observer)

– Here’s a lengthy-but-good-read on Gonzaga’s National Championship hopes. If you have 5-10 minutes to spare, this article explains why a seasoned Elias Harris might be able to take the Zags further than ever before. (College Hoops Journal)

– St. John’s bounced back from a tough road loss at Georgetown to defeat UConn in the Huskies’ final regular season game at Madison Square Garden. With St. John’s leaving the Big East with the Catholic-7, this was the Huskies final Big East regular season game at The Mecca. (Rumble in the Garden)

Odds & Ends:
– Bill Walton was at Arizona last night to call the Arizona-Stanford game. Before the game, in typical Walton fashion, he spoke to Arizona students about life, hoops, war and Bob Dylan. (Arizona Daily Star)

– The Michigan Wolverines are going to don special 1968 throwback uniforms against Penn State on February 16th, when the Chrisler Center rededication ceremonies take place. (UM Hoops)

– Well this is just awkward: Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard was ejected from his son’s high school game for heckling referees from the stands. (USA Today)

– A video, picture and .GIF of Russ Smith’s russdiculous dunk against Rutgers last night. (Card Chronicle)

– For those of you interested in celebrity gossip: It looks like ESPN analyst Jay Williams is dating ESPN Sports Nation host Charissa Thompson. (The Big Lead)
 
 
Video of the Day:
I don’t even know what to say about this. I’m speechless. This is phenomenal. +10000.

Video of the Day:
Derrick Nix, all 270-pounds of him, fell on top of two Michigan State cheerleaders while going for a lose ball. (Big Ten Network)


 
 
Dunk of the Day:
Markel Brown goes reverse ally-oop in traffic. Impressive.

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

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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

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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.

Svi Mykhailiuk drops 20 pounds, makes weird Kansas roster even weirder

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Kansas is a weird team this season.

They’re talented, they’re probably going to win the Big 12 again and I fully expect them to be in the national title picture come March, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re … weird.

25 percent of their scholarship players are transfers sitting out the year. That doesn’t include Sam Cunliffe, who won’t be eligible until December. So that’s unusual, as is the fact that Bill Self, a coach that had steadfastly remained dedicated to playing two big men together despite the gradual shift to small-ball, has three big men on his roster in total.

One of those three is Mitch Lightfoot, which means that there are just two big men on the roster that a potential Final Four team should feel comfortable having as a major part of their rotation. That would be sophomore Udoka Azubuike and freshman Billy Preston.

That makes it seem pretty clear that the Jayhawks will be going with another small-ball look, just as they did last season, right? But they don’t really have a piece to replace Josh Jackson, who was a perfect fit as a college four in a small-ball lineup. He was a natural wing that was athletic enough to block shots and tough enough to battle bigs on the glass.

So who plays that role this season?

Some thought it could be Svi Mykhailiuk, the 20-year old Ukranian senior, but he’s never really been that guy. Oh, and he just so happened to lose 20 pounds this offseason.

“I’m trying to stay light-weight this year, so it’s going to help me a lot,” Mykhailiuk told the Kansas City Star. “I feel like I’m faster with the light weight. I’m more athletic. It just helps me overall in the game.”

Which means … what, exactly?

Losing 20 pounds isn’t exactly going to help a player that has some question marks about his toughness and physicality battle with college fours in the paint. Does it mean he’ll be playing more on the wing? If so, who plays at the four? Will LaGerald Vick — all six feet, five inches and 175 pounds — be playing in the Josh Jackson role?

Or is Self going to use Preston as his new Perry Ellis, hoping that this five-star freshman becomes what his last five-star four-man — Carlton Bragg — never could?

My guess is that it will likely end up being all of the above, depending on matchups.

But it doesn’t make the Jayhawks’ weird roster any clearer.

Four-star forward commits to Wake Forest

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Danny Manning added another four-star recruit to his 2018 recruiting class.

Isaiah Mucius, a 6-foot-7 forward, committed to Wake Forest on Monday evening, giving the Demon Deacons another top-rated prospect alongside top-25 prospect Jaylen Hoard in 2018.

“I’d like to thank my family and my friends for having my back throughout all the tough times and good times,” Mucius said in a social media post. “I’d like to thank all the college coaches that recruited me through this process and believed in me and my talents.

“I’ll be attending Wake Forest University.”

Mucius, a consensus top-100 recruit, visited Wake Forest, which he visited this past weekend, over Xavier, which he visited earlier this month. The Brewster Academy product also had offers from the likes of Connecticut, Minnesota and LSU, among others.

Manning’s 2018 class now includes Mucius, three-star guard Sharone White and Hoard, a 6-foot-8 four-star forward who committed to the Demon Deacons last month.

“I am trying to win an NCAA Championship,” Mucius told Scout.com, “and I think having Jaylen (Hoard) on the wing with me, and we are trying to help get a point guard, and I think we can win a championship.”

Rhode Island staffer arrested at team facility

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A Rhode Island staffer has been placed on administrative after an arrest last week stemming from an incident at the team’s facility, according to reports.

Tyron Boswell, who joined Rhode Island last season as the director of operations, was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, following a verbal altercation with police, according to WPRI-TV in Providence.

From the police report, according to WPRI:

“Officers working a concert detail at the Ryan Center Thursday night responded to a reported fight in a men’s bathroom involving members of the basketball team. While trying to break up the disturbance, officers said Boswell started yelling and swearing at them. The officers told Boswell to leave, but said he kept yelling as he walked out of the bathroom.

Officers said Boswell’s outbursts agitated the crowd that had gathered outside the bathroom. Seeing that he was not going to leave peacefully, officers said they decided to place Boswell under arrest. However, police said Boswell kept yelling and struggled with officers as they put him in handcuffs and led him out of the building.”

Boswell was placed on administrative leave by the university.

“The University cannot comment further on the circumstances of the arrest, other individuals named in the arrest report or the details included in the arrest report until the investigation of the situation is complete,” a spokesperson for Rhode Island said in a statement. “The University is cooperating with the South Kingstown Police Department for the investigation.”

Boswell joined Rhode Island last year after previously being the director of operations for the grassroots program Expressions Elite. He reportedly was promoted to assistant coach at Rhode Island this year, according to Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports. He remains listed as the director of operations on Rhode Island’s roster.