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The Morning Mix

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Time for another installment of your favorite morning roundup of college basketball news and notes.

You know what to do.

Let’s hit the links.

Monday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 25 Kentucky @ No. 7 Florida
7:00 p.m. – Towson @ James Madison
7:00 p.m. – Boston @ Vermont
7:00 p.m. – Valparaiso @ Wright State
8:00 p.m. – Villanova @ Cincinnati
8:00 p.m. – Indiana State @ Missouri State
9:00 p.m. – No. 4 Michigan @ No. 8 Michigan State
9:00 p.m. – Alabama @ Georgia
 
 
Read of the Day:
It’s a common misconception that ESPN destroyed the Big East Conference. While the WWL has pulled some strings in regards to conference realignment, it was FOX and not ESPN that caused the Big East to deteriorate. (Frank The Tank’s Slant)

Read of the Day:
Louisiana Tech ranked higher than Georgetown and Marquette? Somebody did this, and Gary Parrish wants to know why. Poll Attacks. (Eye on College Basketball)
 
 
Top Stories:
Kansas proves losing streak was a result of confidence issues: The Jayhawks broke out of their two-game slump and absolutely pummeled Kansas State on Monday night. The issue for Kansas was their confidence, and they seemed to have it last night.

Georgetown beats Marquette, finally controls Big East destiny: The Hoyas have now won six straight games and eight of their last nine to climb to 8-3 in the Big East. Monday’s 63-55 win over No. 18 Marquette at the Verizon Center drew the Hoyas into a second-place tie with the Golden Eagles. This was the same team that lost to Pittsburgh by 28 and won a game despite scoring under 40 points.

You think the season’s been fun? It gets so much better this week: Last week was unquestionably the most bonkers week of the entire season. Four of the top five teams in the country lost and overtime was the flavor of the week. But with Rivalry Week upon us, we could be in for some entertaining deja vu.

Bubble Banter: Illinois, Oklahoma this week’s big winners: Dave Ommen, our resident bracketologist is back for another installment of Bubble Banter. Take a look at what teams are in and what teams still have work to do.

Rick Ray isn’t happy with Jalen Steele, at all: Rick Ray has had a rough season in his first as head coach at Mississippi State. Injuries and defections have left him with only a handful of scholarship players. But despite being shorthanded, he’s no cutting anybody any slack. Especially not Jalen Steele.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Memphis guard Antonio Barton will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a hairline fracture in his right foot. The Tigers are undefeated in Conference-USA and have won 14 in a row. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– UConn center Enosch Wolf was arrested on campus Monday morning following a domestic dispute. the 7-foot German import was charged with burglary and disorderly conduct. He has been suspended indefinitely. (Hartford Courant)

– Northwestern lost two players to injury over the weekend. Jared Swopshire suffered and knee injury and Alex Olah suffered a concussion. Both players will miss the Ohio State game on Thursday. (Chicago Sun-Times)

– Oklahoma freshman Buddy Hield broke his foot against TCU last night and will miss the next 4-6 weeks. (Crimson and Cream Machine)

– Butler center Andrew Smith will miss the next two games will nursing an abdominal injury. The Bulldogs play host to Charlotte and travel to Fordham this week. (Fox 59)

 
 
Observations & Insight:
– You’re kidding me, right? Tubby Smith should be fired? Sure the Gophers greatly exceeded expectations early this year, but they’re almost a lock for the NCAA tournament and are in the top half of the best conference in the country. This is silly. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

– Oh look, yet another installment of “Is this the year Gonzaga makes it to the Final Four?”. Seriously, This may be the most repetitive story in college hoops this season. (USA Today)

– Depending on where you look, New Mexico could be the 3rd or 36th best team in the country. (Wall Street Journal)

– Virginia has won six of their last seven, and scored their second and third most single game totals in the past two games. But are they a tournament team? Jerry Palm doesn’t even think they are a bubble team. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Otto Porter is the key cog for Georgetown. The Hoyas will only go as far as he can take them. But exactly how far is that? (ESPN)

– Marquette head coach Buzz Williams gives one of the best post-game press conferences in the country. He got his first technical foul of the season last night against Georgetown. His presser was off-the-charts entertaining. (D1scourse)

– Former-Oklahoma State head coach Eddie Sutton discusses the decline in college basketball attendance. Interesting stuff. (Tulsa World)

– Florida is going to need somebody to step up in the wake of Will Yeguete’s season-ending injury and Casey Prather just might be the guy to do it. (Alligator Army)

– Jim Boeheim doesn’t read the blogs. I’m crushed. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– An NBA scouting report on Illinois State forward Jackie Carmichael. (NBA Draft Blog)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Georgetown young alumni unveiled their unofficial Catholic-7 banner at last night’s game against Marquette. “Basketball is our Religion.” (H/T @JustinMU03)

source:
 
 
Dunk of the Day:
Jeff Withey does what Jeff Withey do.


 
 
Video of the Day:
3/4-court buzzer-beater OFF THE BOUNCE!


 
 
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)

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson

 

Hayes returning to Wisconsin for senior season

Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes celebrates with fans after an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 67-59. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Wisconsin has cemented itself as one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten for the 2016-17 season.

Forward Nigel Hayes, the Badgers’ leading scorer and assist man, is withdrawing his name from NBA Draft consideration to return to Madison for his senior season, he told the Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday evening.

Hayes declared for the draft last month, but did not hire an agent, taking advantage of new NCAA legislation that allowed him to attend the NBA Draft combine and workout for pro franchises. He was largely regarded as a fringe first-round prospect by draft observers.

His decision is a major boon for Greg Gard, who may have the Big Ten’s best team in his first full season at the helm after taking over for Bo Ryan in the middle of last season. Wisconsin had a major turnaround under Gard, which ultimately resulted in him moving from interim to full time. The Badgers were 7-5 when Ryan stepped down, but recovered by going 13-4 to end the season and make the Sweet 16. 

Now, the entirety of that team, headlined by Hayes, is returning for another year and almost assuredly will be a top-15 (or better) preseason pick. Michigan State will welcome in a dynamite recruiting class that features five-stars Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston, and Indiana should remain strong, but the Badgers, with some players having the experience of  playing in two Final Fours, could very well have the best roster on paper with its blend of talent and experience. Whichever team is pegged as the favorite, the top of the Big Ten is shaping up to be a fantastic race.