The Morning Mix

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GRUESOME INJURY ALERT!

Kentucky’s Nerlen Noel, the likely No.1 draft pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, suffered a gruesome knee injury last night.

Don’t worry. I made sure everything remains behind a link wall.

But to be honest, it’s not THAT gross. It’s not even close to being as bad as leg injury Texas A&M’s Derrick Roland suffered two years ago. Now THAT was gnarly.

But yeah, it’s still pretty bad.

Anyways, Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Nebraska @ No. 1 Indiana
7:00 p.m. – No. 3 Miami @ Florida State
7:00 p.m. – No. 6 Syracuse @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ No. 11 Butler
7:00 p.m. – No. 17 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
7:00 p.m. – DePaul @ No. 21 Notre Dame
7:00 p.m. – Delaware @ Northeastern
7:00 p.m. – Ole Miss @ Texas A&M
7:00 p.m. – La Salle @ St. Bonaventure
8:00 p.m. – Central Florida @ No. 22 Memphis
8:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Texas
8:00 p.m. – Creighton @ Northern Iowa
9:00 p.m. – North Carolina @ No. 2 Duke
9:00 p.m. – West Virginia @ Baylor
9:00 p.m. – UNLV @ Air Force
10:00 p.m. – No. 19 New Mexico @ Fresno State
10:00 p.m. – San Diego State @ No. 24 Colorado State
11:00 p.m. – No. 23 Oregon @ Washington
11:00 p.m. – Cal State Fullerton @ Long Beach State
 
 
Read of the Day:
A powerful story about Chicago basketball icon Larry Butler and the murder that took place following the Simeon vs. Morgan Park high school game back in mid-January. Read this. (Chicago Side)

Read of the Day:
A fantastic profile on Ben McLemore’s older brother, who is serving a 15-year jail sentence for his role in a 2008 armed robbery. (Kansas City Star)
 
 
Top Stories:
VIDEO: Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel injures knee vs. Florida:The future first round draft pick went down in a heap of pain after his knee buckled in the wrong direction halfway through the second half of the Wildcats’ 69-52 loss at Florida.

What does it mean for Kentucky if Noel is out for a long time? 24 hours ago we were talking about a Kentucky team that nobody would want to face as a lower seed at-large NCAA Tournament team. But one knee injury later and the letters N.I.T. start to reappear.

Florida beat Kentucky, but it wasn’t exactly impressive: The Gators have been steamrolling SEC opponents at home this year, which is why you can understand why we might not think a 17-point win against Kentucky is that impressive.

No. 8 Michigan State claims sole possession of Big Ten with blowout win over No. 4 Michigan: The Spartans ran all over their in-state rivals, dismantling the Wolverines 75-72 in front of a raucous crowd at the Breslin Center. This is Tom Izzo doing work. Spartans don’t look like title contenders in November, but they do in February. That’s why Izzo is Izzo.

Is it time to reevaluate how we view Michigan? Nearly every marquee Big-Ten game this season has been decided by ten points or less. So we must at least reevaluate our stance on the Wolverines following their trip to the woodshed at the hands of Michigan State.

Maryland to honor ex-coach Lefty Driesell this month: Maryland will honor former coach Lefty Driesell at the Terrapins’ home game against Clemson on Feb. 23 and will unveil a bronze bas-relief to commemorate his time at the school later this year.

Georgetown’s ‘Stonewalls’ unveil soccer-style banner supporting Catholic 7: There is no denying that the Georgetown student section is sub-par. But the university’s young alumni section is growing in numbers, and showed off this phenomenal Catholic-7 banner on Monday night against Marquette.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Texas sophomore Jonathan Holmes has been cleared to play tonight against Iowa State. The forward has been out of action since January 21st when he suffered a broken bone in his right hand against Oklahoma. (Sporting News)

– St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin is questionable to return to the sidelines tonight as he continues to mourn the loss of his father, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 83. (SNY.tv)

– Northwestern forward Jared Swopshire will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury over the weekend. Swopshire missed the entire 2011-2012 season with a groin injury while at Louisville. (Chicago Tribune)

– North Carolina freshman Joel James will miss tonight’s rivalry game against Duke due to a concussion he suffered against Wake Forest last week. (Fayetteville Observer)

– Oregon guard Dominic Artis has already missed five games due to a foot injury, and the dynamic freshman guard isn’t likely to return this week. The Ducks are 2-3 without Artis in the lineup. (Sporting News)

– Matthew White, a member of the 1979 UPenn team that made the Final Four, was stabbed to death by his wife early Monday morning. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Nerlens Noel’s knee injury has people wondering if future NBA players even need to go to college. (Yahoo Sports)

– Michigan State big-man Derrick Nix told Trey Burke that he’s soft. (MLive.com)

– Only seven BCS-conference teams have won six or more road games this season. Miami is the only BCS-conference team to have won more than seven road games. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Copious amounts of sage advice for Golden Gopher fans starting to come around to the idea that maybe Tubby Smith should get fired. P.S. He’s not getting fired. (From The Barn)

– Carrick Felix for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year? I’ll certainly buy it. He’s one of the most underrated players out west and has shut down nearly all the big time stars he has gone up against. (Pitchfork Posts)

– As long as we understand that “Running through March Madness” could mean different things for different teams, yes, this is a pretty solid list of five teams that could run through March Madness. (Sports Blitz)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– I’m not exactly sure why this matters, but Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has never smoked marijuana in his entire life. (Deadspin)

– Jay Williams contract at ESPN is up at the end of March. Will he leave? Does anybody really care? (The Big Lead)

– We want student sections to be creative, right? We all get upset when they chant “overrated” at the end of a big game, correct? Well, I think the Izzone got it right with this one. (The Dagger)

– “The Harlem Shake” is spreading like wildfire. The college basketball world could not avoid it. (ACC Sports Journal)

– I hate giving Jeff Borzello credit for anything, I really do. And while this isn’t exactly critical acclaim, for somebody like Jeff Borzello, this is as big as it gets: Ke$ha liked something he wrote. Yup, that Ke$ha. She approved of the Wisconsin Badgers’ use of her music for their postgame celebration. Borzello wrote about the celebration. In Jeff’s world, he’s now the most popular kid in high school, and that’s a big deal for him. (Madtown Badgers)
 
 
Photo of the Day:
Well done Izzone, Well done. (The Dagger)

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
Well done Sparty. Well done. (H/T@WorldofIsaac)


 
 
Dunk of the Day:
Nice dunk. Better sequence. (H/T @RunTheFloor)

Dunk of the Day:
Come for the No. 1 dunk, stay for Ernie Kent’s analysis. (Pacific Takes)

 
 
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Player Of The Week: Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s

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Prior to this week, Saint Mary’s season had been defined by a slump at the most inopportune time.

The Gaels lost to both Washington State and Georgia in the Wooden Legacy, the only two non-conference games they played against relevant opponents, and it put the program behind the eight-ball when it came to trying to earn  bid to the NCAA tournament.

What Saint Mary’s needed to do was win at least won – and quite likely two – games against Gonzaga during the WCC regular season. Consider the first step complete. Landale finished with 24 points, 12 boards, three assists and two blocks on Thursday night as Randy Bennett took his team into Spokane and picked off the No. 13 Zags. Saint Mary’s followed that up with a tougher-than-expected win over Pacific where Landale finished with 32 points and seven boards.

All told, Saint Mary’s is now in sole possession of first place in the league and in the midst of a 14 game winning streak, the final four of which all came on the road.

And Landale, who has quietly been one of the most productive and efficient big men in college basketball, led the way once again. He’s now averaging 22.4 points and 10.2 boards for a team that should get ranked in the top 25 this week. He’s very much in consideration for an All-American team now, and I’m not sure that would have been the case without that win on Thursday night.

THE ALL-‘THEY WERE GOOD, TOO’ TEAM

  • SHAKE MILTON, SMU: Milton played the best game of his career in the most important game of the season for the Mustangs, putting 33 points on 11-for-14 shooting and five assists on No. 7 Wichita State and Landry Shamet in a road win. He followed that up with 20 points, five boards and five assists in a win against Tulane.
  • JAMES PALMER, Nebraska: Palmer scored 24 points and hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating three against Illinois, following that up with 19 points, four boards and a pair of assists in a blowout win over No. 23 Michigan.
  • DEAN WADE, Kansas State: The Wildcats put themselves firmly in the NCAA tournament picture with a pair of wins over ranked teams this week, beating No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 24 TCU. Wade, in those two games, averaged 20.5 points, 6.5 boards and 6.5 assists with four steals and two blocks.
  • J.P. MACURA, Xavier: Macura scored 16 points on Wednesday night to help Xavier put away St. John’s before leading the Musketeers with 27 points and five boards in a 73-64 win at No. 19 Seton Hall. The Musketeers had lost their previous two games on the road.
  • PARKER JACKSON-CARTWRIGHT, Arizona: Jackson-Cartwright has gotten plenty of stick this season for his issues on the defensive end of the floor, and it’s not necessarily unfair. But in a game at Stanford with first place in the Pac-12 on the line, Jackson-Cartwright made two massive defensive plays down the stretch to help seal the win.

College Basketball Power Rankings: Kentucky drops out of the Top 25

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I’m not sure that this Kentucky season can be considered a worst-case scenario.

Kentucky fans have seen a worst-case scenario.

That came during the 2012-13 season, when a Wildcat team that was trending towards the back end of the top 25 lost their star center Nerlens Noel to a torn ACL in February, dooming them to the NIT, where they lost in the first round to Robert Morris.

That is a worst-case scenario, and barring something totally unforeseen, this Kentucky team is not going to turn into that Kentucky team.

This group looks much more like the team we saw the following year, the one that featured Julius Randle, James Young, the Harrison twins and Willie Cauley-Stein and entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed with a 24-10 record before making a run to the national title game. That team had plenty of talent, but they never quite gelled until March.

This year’s team does not have that same level of talent, but they are running into some of the same problems.

The question is whether or not this group actually has the potential to come together and make a run like that 2014 team.

RELATED: Kentucky just is not that good

And frankly, I still think they do. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as a go-to guy while Kevin Knox had seemingly regained his confidence before a poor performance in the home loss to Florida. Quade Green has returned to the lineup, as has Jarred Vanderbilt, who might be the key to unlock the potential on this roster.

In an ideal world, Kentucky’s length and athleticism allows them to be one of the nation’s best defensive teams while the playmaking of Vanderbilt and Green makes their offense fluid enough that they overcome some of their shooting issues. I can still tell myself a story where Kentucky finds a way to put it all together for six straight games in March.

But that’s not who they are right now.

And with each passing game, I grow less and less confident that the elite will ever come out of this group.

Kentucky is not a top 25 basketball team right now. They are nowhere near one of the favorites to win a national title right now. And, at this point, Kentucky fans would do well to adjust their expectations, as a trip out of the Sweet 16 should be considered a success.

Here is the full top 25.

1. Villanova, 18-1 (Last Week: No. 1)
2. Purdue, 19-2 (2)
3. Virginia, 18-1 (5)
4. Kansas, 16-3 (13)
5. Michigan State, 17-3 (7)
6. Duke, 17-2 (10)
7. West Virginia, 16-3 (4)
8. Arizona, 16-4 (8)
9. Xavier, 18-3 (11)
10. Oklahoma, 14-4 (6)
11. North Carolina, 16-4 (17)
12. Texas Tech, 15-4 (3)
13. Cincinnati, 17-2 (19)
14. Ohio State, 17-4 (22)
15. Auburn, 17-2 (18)
16. Tennessee, 13-5 (23)
17. Wichita State, 15-4 (9)
18. Clemson, 16-3 (20)
19. Saint Mary’s, 19-2 (NR)
20. Gonzaga, 17-4 (16)
21. Nevada, 18-3 (NR)
22. Florida, 14-5 (NR)
23. Rhode Island, 15-3 (NR)
24. Arizona State, 15-4 (14)
25. TCU, 14-5 (25)

DROPPED OUT: No. 12 Seton Hall, No. 15 Kentucky, No. 21 Michigan, No. 24 Miami

NEW ADDITIONS: No. 19 Saint Mary’s, No. 21 Nevada, No. 22 Florida, No. 23 Rhode Island

VIDEO: Northern Colorado wins game with halfcourt buzzer beater

Screengrab via @BigSkyMBB
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Northern Colorado knocked off North Dakota on Saturday night thanks to a half court buzzer-beating three from Andre Spight.

Spight is averaging 20.3 points on the season and finished with 34 points and six assists in the 94-91 win.

Clemson’s Grantham tears ACL

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The news on Donte Grantham’s knee was not good.

No. 20 Clemson announced on Sunday morning that Grantham, the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder, would miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in a win over Notre Dame on Saturday.

“I’m disappointed that Donte’s career at Clemson had to end this way,” head coach Brad Brownell said. “He was putting together a terrific season statistically, but he really helps this team is so many ways. He’s been a pleasure to coach and it has been fun to watch him mature and grow into the leader of our program.”

Grantham was averaging 14.2 points and 7.1 boards this year.

The Tigers are 16-3 on the season and in line to make a run at an NCAA tournament bid.

VIDEO: West Virginia honored Andrew Jones before game vs. Texas

Screengrab via CBS
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The West Virginia basketball team donned burnt orange ‘Big 12 Strong’ warmup shirts with the No. 1 on the back in honor of Texas point guard Andrew Jones.

Jones was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month.

Texas Tech also honored Jones before a game this week, and Texas has raised more than $100,000 for his medical expenses.