The Morning Mix

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What a weekend.

Five overtimes, half-court buzzer-beaters, more overtime, Miami Heat-approved off-the-backboard dunks, bizarre finishes, and even more overtime.

The only thing the weekend lacked was consistency. We’re just inside five weeks away from Selection Sunday, and I can think of roughly 15 teams that could win the National Championship and about 45 teams that could lose it.

Let’s hit the links.

Monday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 24 Marquette @ No. 20 Georgetown
7:00 p.m. – Old Dominion @ Delaware (NBC Sports Network)
8:00 p.m. – TCU @ Oklahoma
9:00 p.m. – No. 13 Kansas State @ No. 5 Kansas
 
 
Read of the Day:
Greg Bishop of the New York Times wrote a tremendous profile piece on the trials and tribulations of ESPN analyst and former-Naismith Player of the Year Jay Williams. After being drafted by Chicago with the No.2 draft pick in 2002, Williams suffered a career-ending leg injury in a motorcycle accident. Even you Duke-haters will have difficulty rooting against Williams after reading this brilliant story. READ THIS. Seriously, this is the best thing you will read all week. (New York Times)

Read of the Day:
Eamonn Brennan was at the Louisville-Notre Dame five overtime thriller. His take is as good as they come. Read it. (ESPN)
 
 
Top Stories:
Victor Oladipo’s importance shows as No. 1 Indiana rolls over No. 10 Ohio State: The junior guard struggled on Thursday during the Hoosiers buzzer-beating loss at Illinois. But on Sunday and entirely different Oladipo showed up at Ohio State. He scored 26 points on 8-of-10 shooting and was the engine behind Indiana’s offensive attack, as the Hoosiers cruised to an impressive 81-68 win.

Garrick Sherman emerges for 1st time in Big East play to lead Notre Dame in 5 OTs: The Michigan State-transfer did not play a single minute in regulation, but came on and scored 17 points and 6 rebounds and was the driving force behind the Irish’s dramatic 5OT win over Louisville.

Return of Syracuse’s James Southerland changes national picture: With the return of their best shooter from an academic suspension, Syracuse is once again a legitimate contender for the National Championship.

Could Miami take over No. 1 spot in the AP poll after win over UNC? With four top-10 teams losing this week, a long with another dominant performance from the Hurricanes, could Miami take over the No. 1 spot when the new rankings are released later today?

VIDEO: Ben Brust thrusts Wisconsin into B1G title contention: Ben Brust hit two huge shots, one being a half-court buzzer-beater to send the game in to overtime, as Wisconsin got back in to the Big-Ten title discussion with a win over Michigan.

Don’t dismiss Virginia’s NCAA tournament hopes just yet: A week after suffering an ugly loss to Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers earned a quality road victory against Maryland, and are still in the hunt for an at-large bid.

No. 21 Missouri makes a much-needed statement vs. Ole Miss: The Missouri Tigers got a much-needed victory this weekend as they rolled over Ole Miss at home. The Tigers still haven’t won a true road game, but a win against a credible opponent is what they needed, and they got it, despite an ugly altercation towards the end of the game.

Bizarre officiating allows Khalif Wyatt, Temple to escape with road win over Dayton: Saturday finished with a five overtime thriller but began with a bizarre final seven seconds of the game. Temple escaped thanks to a big shot from Khalif Wyatt, but also some luck and some odd officiating.

 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Texas’ Myck Kabongo will return to the court for the first time this season on Wednesday when the Longhorns face Iowa State.Kabongo had been serving a NCAA suspension for receiving impermissible benefits. (Sporting News)

– Charlotte guard JT Thompson just can’t catch a break. The Virginia Tech-transfer missed two seasons in Blacksburg because of torn ACLs. On Wednesday against Temple, he tore his right ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Nobody deserves knees like that. (Pickin’ Splinters)

– Florida forward Erik Murphy left the Gator’s 82-58 win over Mississippi State with an ankle sprain on Saturday. The Gators can ill afford to lose another member of their front court. Late last week it was announced that forward Will Yuguete will miss the rest of the season due to knee surgery. (Alligator Army)

– Jacksonville State head coach James Green has been suspended by the OVC for one game after receiving two technical fouls and an ejection during his team’s loss to Tennessee Tech on Saturday. (ESPN)

– San Jose State’s top scorer James Kinney has been suspended for the remainder of the season. He has sat out the last eight games for the Spartans, all of them losses. (Oakland Tribune)

– On Saturday Mississippi State suspended their most experienced guard Jalen Steele for violating team rules. Things have gone from bad to worse in Starkville. (Clarion-Ledger)

– Memphis junior Antonio Barton injured his foot in the first minute of the Tigers’ road victory over Southern Mississippi on Saturday. He will get X-rays today but early reports indicate that his foot is likely broken. This would be a substantial loss for a Memphis team that has been gelling of late and dominating Conference-USA play. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

 
 
Observations & Insight:
– The Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball team continues to cope with the loss of assistant coach Monica Quan, who was murdered by former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who remains at-large. (Sporting News)

– St. Bonaventure’s may have earned the best road win of the season this past weekend, and it’s not because of what happened on the court. (The Dagger)

– NC-State’s Scott Wood, one of the nation’s premiere 3-pointer shooters, hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Clemson to avoid another embarrassing upset for the Wolfpack. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Montana beat North Dakota 78-58 on Saturday for their 28th consecutive conference win, a new Big Sky record. This is a team you need to watch for come March. (Big Sky BBall)

– Fox Sports is interested in the TV rights for the Catholic-7, and has been for a long time. (VU Hoops)

– Mike DeCourcy looks ahead at the top games and match-ups of the upcoming week. (Sporting News)

– Seth Davis recaps a wild week in his latest installment of “Fast Break”. (Sports Illustrated)

– Dana O’Neil on the magnificent job Jim Larranaga is doing with the Miami Hurricanes. Coach of the Year for certain. (ESPN)

– More discussion on why Miami should be the No. 1 team in the country this week. (Wilmington Star News)

– Old Dominion nearly pulled the upset of the weekend against CAA-leading Northeastern. it would have been their second straight victory following the firing of head coach Blaine Taylor. The search for a new head coach is about to get underway and is a high-profile gig for a sharp up-and-commer. (Virginian-Pilot)

– Aaron Craft is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country, but his offensive skills are still somewhat undeveloped. Can a guy like him find a spot in the NBA? (Land-Grant Holy Land)

– John Gasaway dissects some of the nation’s most underutilized players. (ESPN Insider)

Odds & Ends:
– Dwayne Wade and LeBron James, decked out in goofy attire as usual, were in attendance as the MiamI Hurricanes dunked all over North Carolina en route to a 87-61 victory. (The Dagger)

– A solid “Where are they now?” on former Bradley star Patrick O’Bryant. (Peoria Journal-Star)

– The Cameron Crazies lost a bunch of street cred last week, but C’mon, a terrorist organization? This is just silly. (The Blue Zone)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Butler was in the nation’s capital this weekend and escapes with a 59-56 win over George Washington. But before the game, the Butler mascots, Blue II and Blue III aka Trip, met with their bulldog brethren, Georgetown’s Jack the Bulldog and, Jack Jr. aka J.J. If this isn’t reason enough for Butler to join the Catholic-7, I don’t know what is.

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
A Notre Dame student made a halfcourt shot on ESPN Gameday and won $18,000. Rece Davis got excited. (The Big Lead)

Video of the Day:
The Wisconsin Badgers celebrated their victory over Michigan by dancing to Ke$ha. Of course they did.

Video of the Day:
Tom Izzo is confused. (H/T @WorldofIsaac)


 
 
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Sweet 16 Preview: Thursday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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The Sweet 16 kicks off on Thursday night, and the games are going to be terrific.

Oregon-Michigan should be thrilling, Gonzaga-West Virginia is a fascinating contrast of styles and Kansas-Purdue features arguably the two best players in college basketball.

Oh, and then there’s Arizona-Xavier, with Sean Miller and Chris Mack doing battle.

For an in-depth look at each region, check these out:

SWEET 16 PREVIEW: Midwest | West | South | East

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan (-1.5), 7:09 p.m. (CBS): So this run that Michigan on, is it a fluke?

Frankly, I don’t think that it is. Derrick Walton has been awesome for the better part of two months while Michigan’s perimeter shooters have always been shooters and the duo of D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner are legit. I honestly do not believe that the Wolverines are a team of destiny after the plane crash. They are just really good and a perfect roster for John Beilein to tinker with.

That’s why they’re favored on Thursday night. But here’s the thing … Oregon is pretty good themselves. Dillon Brooks is going to be guarded by a big man, which should be a matchup that Brooks can take advantage of, and Tyler Dorsey has been playing terrific basketball since the start of the Pac-12 tournament.

If you like small-ball, spread-the-court basketball, you’ll love this game.

PREDICTION: Michigan (-1.5)

No. 1 Gonzaga (-3) vs. No. 4 West Virginia, 7:39 p.m. (TBS): On paper, I think Gonzaga should win this game. They have a good back court in Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins, a pair of talented point guards that have won a lot of games in their career. Gonzaga is also the best defensive team in the country. So if they don’t turn the ball over against West Virginia’s press and they make it difficult for West Virginia to score in the half court and get into their press, they should be able to win this thing, right?

Well, maybe not.

My concern with Gonzaga is game-pressure. They didn’t handle it well down the stretch against BYU in their one loss of the season, and I’m not convinced that they win that second round game against Northwestern if the officials don’t blow the goaltending call. How are they going to handle an endless wave of Mountaineers in their face?

PREDICTION: Gonzaga (-3)

No. 1 Kansas (-5) vs. No. 4 Purdue, 9:39 p.m. (CBS): More than any other game this weekend, I’m fascinated to see how these two teams decide to try and play each other. Kansas has, essentially, one big man that Bill Self can trust, and he’s going up against a Player of the Year candidate in Caleb Swanigan and one of the best big men in the country at drawing fouls in Isaac Haas. Will Self double-team Swanigan knowing that Purdue may be more effective offensively when Swanigan can find shooters out of the double-team, or will he risk Lucas getting in foul trouble by trying to guard Swanigan one-on-one?

Then, at the other end of the floor, how will Purdue deal with the Kansas back court? Frank Mason III, the NBC Sports National Player of the Year, and Devonte’ Graham are a nightmare for anyone to deal with, let alone a team that struggles against penetrating guards and that lacks rim protection. It should be a fascinating coaching battle.

PREDICTION: Kansas (-5)

No. 2 Arizona (-7.5) vs. No. 11 Xavier, 10:09 p.m. (TBS): On paper, Arizona should be able to handle a Xavier team that doesn’t have Edmond Sumner or Myles Davis. That said, as we all know, Chris Mack and Sean Miller are very close and used to work together. Mack knows everything that Miller is going to do and vice versa. I think this game will be a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair that comes down to the final minutes.

PREDICTION: Xavier (+7.5)

Shayok and Reuter transferring from Virginia

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Virginia announced the departure of two players Wednesday.

Marial Shayok and Jerred Shayok will both transfer out of the program, the school said.

“Marial and Jarred informed me today that they are leaving the Virginia basketball program and are looking to transfer to other schools,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said in a statement released by the school. “I thank Marial and Jarred for their hard work and contributions to our program, and wish them success in the future.”

Shayok, a a 6-foot-5 junior, played 20.9 minutes per game last season for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor. The Ottawa native started 23 games in three seasons with Virginia.

Reuter played a minimal role for the Cavaliers, averaging just 10.8 minutes and 3.8 rebounds per game.

Wake’s Collins declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest’s John Collins is entering the NBA draft but will not hire an agent and is keeping open the option of returning to school for his junior season.

In a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, Collins said he wants “to make an informed decision about what is best for my future.”

Collins is a 6-foot-10 forward who as a sophomore blossomed into one of the best big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was voted to the Associated Press all-ACC team.

He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 20-point games late in the season.

His progression was a big reason why the Demon Deacons earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. Kansas State beat Wake Forest in the First Four.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Porter, Jr. will ask for Washington release

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There may be an overwhelming assumption on where Michael Porter, Jr. – and his father – will ultimately end up, but the five-star recruit is said publicly that he see his re-recruitment process through.

Porter, Jr. said in a teleconference Wednesday that he will ask for his release from Washington, and his father, a former Huskies assistant, has been offered a job at Missouri by new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin.

“Right now I’m just trying to take it slow with my family and weigh my options,” Porter Jr. said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I plan to get my (national letter of intent) from Washington back and just go from there, not saying that I’m not going to Washington anymore, but I just want to get it back and weigh my options.”

The prevailing thought has been that the Porters will ultimately land in Columbia, where they have significant history.

Still, it would appear at least publicly that Porter, Jr., a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, will weigh his options in at least the short-term.

Calipari signs two-year extension with Kentucky

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Kentucky continues to take care of John Calipari.

The Wildcats coach has received a two-year extension, keeping him under contract in Lexington through the 2024 season, the school announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Calipari $7.75 million next season and increase to $8 million per season thereafter.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball.

“We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Not only does the deal extend Calipari, but it continues to keep Kentucky competitive with the NBA, which would seem to be the only outlet that would even potentially tempt Calipari away from Kentucky. An NBA franchise would have to make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league to even match Kentucky financially.

Of course, given that Calipari has spurned interest from the league since returning to college in 2000, it seems unlikely that financial considerations would be the lone or heaviest variable in making a decision to move on.

Certainly, Calipari has an excellent thing going at Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country that has enjoyed serious success on the court, culminating in a 2012 national title and a 38-0 start to the 2015 season before a loss in the Final Four.

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said in a statement. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

The Wildcats face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.