Kelly Olynyk, Drew Barham

The Morning Mix

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Friday’s schedule may consist of just 11 games but there are some solid contests to check out, most notably No. 15 Georgetown visiting Cincinnati. The Hoyas can move into first place in the Big East with a win, while a victory for the Bearcats would strengthen their NCAA tournament credentials. Two schools separated by ten miles meet in Riverdale, with Iona taking on a Manhattan squad that’s played some good basketball of late. And there’s also the America East showdown between Vermont and Stony Brook, with the Seawolves looking to return the favor after they were on the receiving end of a beating at Vermont last month.

Let’s hit the links.

Friday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Pennsylvania at Harvard
7:00 p.m. – Iona at Manhattan (ESPNU)
7:00 p.m. – Vermont at Stony Brook (ESPN3)
7:00 p.m. – North Florida at Jacksonville (ESPN3)
9:00 p.m. – No. 15 Georgetown at Cincinnati (ESPN)

Read of the Day:
This piece is lengthy but it’s well worth the read when it comes to collegiate athletics and the NCAA’s history of reform. Let’s just say the governing body doesn’t look too good by the end. (Inside Higher Ed)

Read of the Day:
It looks as if another columnist has decided to ask the question of whether or not college basketball is in bad shape. This piece was sparked by the torn ACL suffered by Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel, and whether or not we agree with such questioning it’s good to get a variety of opinions on the subject. (New Yorker)

 

Top Stories:
Nonprofit group sues NCAA over rule barring of felons from coaching AAU teams: In an attempt to help clean up grassroots basketball, the NCAA implemented restrictions baring former felons from coaching in sanctioned tournaments. A nonprofit group has stepped forwward with the hopes to get the rule overturned.

Deep rotation, defense spark Louisiana Tech’s 12-0 WAC start: The Bulldogs are just one of eight teams that remained unscathed in conference play. While the conference’s infrastructure is almost non-existent, Michael White’s has been playing at an extremely high level and could be poised to make some noise in March.

Five future Kentucky Wildcats named McDonald’s All-Americans: The McDonald’s All-America Game rosters were announced on Thursday, with five players who will attend Kentucky next year being chosen. The Harrison twins, Marcus Lee, James Young and Dakari Johnson all made the cut, and with Aaron Gordon and Andrew Wiggins still undecided UK could very well see that number increase.

Aesthetics mean little in Minnesota’s win over No. 20 Wisconsin: It wasn’t pretty but when a team has lost six of its last eight games beggars can’t be choosers. And fans may want to get used to the Golden Gophers winning ugly games.

Weber State makes statement in win over Montana: Randy Rahe’s Wildcats may still trail Montana by a game in the Big Sky standings, but their 87-63 win over the Grizzlies was quite the statement.

Colorado will ultimately go as far as Spencer Dinwiddie takes them: Colorado avenged a controversial loss with a 71-58 win over No. 9 Arizona and their sophomore point guard was a major reason why. In fact, if Colorado is to win games in March, Spencer Dinwiddie will have to lead the way.

Hoops Housekeeping:

Drexel’s Fouch aiming for 2013-14 return: Drexel fifth-year senior guard will miss the remainder of the season due to a fractured right ankle suffered in November. And according the head coach Bruiser Flint the plan is to apply for a sixth year of eligibility. Fouch has already missed on season due to a torn ACL, which could help his chances of receiving a sixth year.

Observations & Insight:
– Stanford’s rally fell just short at home, and the end result is a one-point loss to USC that doesn’t help their chances of grabbing a bid to the NCAA tournament (San Jose Mercury-News) 

– It was far-fetched a couple weeks ago to even consider California for the NCAA tournament, but their play of late has the Golden Bears thinking that they can make a late-season run (The Dagger)

– Weber State looked like the best team in the Big Sky on Thursday night, and their play has led one writer to make that case (Big Sky Basketball)

– Just four players in all of college basketball attempt 80% or more of their field goals from beyond the arc. Two of them are VCU’s Troy Daniels and Boise State’s Jeff Elorriaga, who have been key cogs in the attacks of their respective teams (Sports Illustrated)

– It’s safe to say that South Carolina head coach is none too thrilled with his team right now, especially after a disappointing effort in a 64-46 home loss to LSU (Gamecocks Online)

– With a trip to Harvard on Saturday looming, Princeton refuses to look past their game on Friday night at Dartmouth. (Trentonian)

Odds & Ends:
– Former Providence forward Dickey Simpkins is being inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend (Friar Basketball) 

Photo of the Day:
https://twitter.com/BrucePascoe/status/302229571938426880

Video of the Day:
Can’t say that I’m a fan of Ke$ha but she provided the music of choice for Minnesota, who did some dancing to celebrate their win over No. 20 Wisconsin (h/t The Dagger). 

Video of the Day:
Valentine’s Day has passed but the ACC used to occasion to catch up with one of the greatest backcourts in the history of the league. N.C. State’s “Fire and Ice,” Chris Corchianni and Rodney Monroe.

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No. 22 Xavier’s slide continues with loss to short-handed No. 7 Creighton

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 16:  Chris Mack the head coach of the Xavier Musketeers  gives instructions to his team against the Creighton Blue Jays during the game at Cintas Center on January 16, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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It’s officially time to be concerned about No. 22 Xavier.

The Musketeers have now lost three straight games, all to the top three teams in the Big East, and currently sit at 13-5 on the year with just a single good win to their name: Clemson.

But prior to Monday’s loss to No. 7 Creighton, Xavier had lost all of their games on the road to teams that will either get a top five seed in the NCAA tournament (Villanova, Butler, Baylor) or play at altitude (Colorado). On Monday, the Musketeers not only lost 72-67 to Creighton, but they did so on a day where the Bluejays lost star point guard and all-american candidate Mo Watson to a knee injury midway through the first half and spent the majority of the game playing with star center Justin Patton saddled with fouls.

Should I mention that Creighton, who is third-nationally in three-point percentage, shot 5-for-19 from beyond the arc, or that their two best healthy guards – Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas – shot a combined 10-for-31?

All of the stars were aligned. Coming how to an afternoon game against a top ten team on a holiday after losing back-to-back games on the road, and that top ten team lost their most important player early in the first half?

This should have been where Xavier landed that first elite win.

Instead, the Musketeers are left scratching their head again.

And it begs the question: If not now, when?

The Musketeers still play Villanova and Butler at home, visit Creighton and have the Crossroads Classic at Cincinnati. There are opportunities for them to get wins that they need.

But if they cannot get a win over a short-handed Creighton team at home, who are they actually going to be?

VIDEO: No. 7 Creighton beats No. 22 Xavier, loses all-american Mo Watson to a knee injury

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Creighton point guard Mo Watson was carried off of the Cintas Center floor on Monday afternoon after an ugly-looking injury in the first half.

Watson drove the lane and landed on his left leg. He immediately grabbed the knee in clear distress:

The Bluejays would hold on to win a thrilling, hard-fought game, 72-67, without Watson. That’s impressive, and it means that they move into a tie for first place in the Big East with Villanova, but the story of this game was Watson.

According to a reporter at the game, Watson told head coach Gregg McDermott that he “heard it pop“. Losing Watson to any significant injury would be catastrophic for the No. 8 Bluejays. Watson entered Monday averaging 13.4 points and a nation’s-best 8.8 assists. He’s been in the top ten of our Player of the Year Power Rankings all season long, is a clear-cut candidate for an all-american team and is the engine for the high-powered offense that has made Creighton a Final Four contender.

The injury may be somewhat controversial as well. Two minutes before the video clip above, Watson banged knees with a Xavier defender and had to be helped off of the floor. He was tested on the sideline and allowed to return to the game, albeit with a noticeable limp.

UPDATE: Gregg McDermott told FS1 after the game that Watson’s ligaments are intact, but that they are concerned about the meniscus.

College Basketball Coaches Poll: Kansas vaults to No. 1

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 03:  Devonte' Graham #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates with Frank Mason III #0 after making a three-pointer during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Allen Fieldhouse on December 3, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Kansas vaulted up to the No. 1 spot in the Coaches Poll for the first time this season, receiving 23 of the 32 first place votes.

Villanova comes in at No. 2 while UCLA, Gonzaga and Kentucky finish up the top five. Bay.or, who was No. 1 in the country last week, is No. 6 while Duke fell all the way to No. 18 with a pair of losses last week.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | Coaches Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

1. Kansas (23 first-place votes)
2. Villanova (4)
3. UCLA (2)
4. Gonzaga (3)
5. Kentucky
6. Baylor
7. Creighton
8. West Virginia
9. North Carolina
10. Oregon
11. Louisville
12. Florida State
13. Arizona
14. Butler
15. Notre Dame
16. Virginia
17. Wisconsin
18. Duke
19. Xavier
20. Cincinnati
21. Florida
22. Purdue
23. Saint Mary’s
24. South Carolina
25. Maryland

College Basketball AP Top 25: Villanova is back to the top spot

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 13: Kris Jenkins #2 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Temple Owls at The Pavilion on December 13, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Temple Owls 78-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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Villanova vaulted back into the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll after falling out for a week when they lost at Creighton.

Kansas comes in at No. 2 while UCLA, Gonzaga and Kentucky finish up the top five. Bay.or, who was No. 1 in the country last week, is No. 6 while Duke fell all the way to No. 18 with a pair of losses last week.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | Coaches Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

1. Villanova (28 first-place votes)
2. Kansas (32)
3. UCLA (3)
4. Gonzaga (2)
5. Kentucky
6. Baylor
t-7. Creighton
t-7. West Virginia
9. North Carolina
10. Florida State
11. Oregon
12. Louisville
13. Butler
14. Arizona
15. Notre Dame
16. Virginia
17. Wisconsin
18. Duke
19. Florida
20. Cincinnati
21. Purdue
22. Xavier
23. Saint Mary’s
24. South Carolina
25. Maryland

Texas gets important commitment from 2017 point guard Matt Coleman

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Texas landed an important piece for its future on Monday as four-star Class of 2017 point guard Matt Coleman committed to the Longhorns during a televised announcement.

A priority recruit for head coach Shaka Smart, the 6-foot-2 Coleman is regarded as the No. 35 overall prospect in the country, according to Rivals. A lefty floor general who can attack the basket and set up others, Coleman played for Smart this summer as the two won a gold medal together with the USA Basketball U18 team during the 2016 FIBA Americas.

Coleman is going to have to improve his perimeter shooting for the next level — he only shot 18 percent from three-point range in Nike EYBL play — but he’s the type of setup guard who should help the talented Texas perimeter get ideal shots. It’ll be intriguing to see how Smart plans to play Coleman in what could be a crowded backcourt next season but Coleman should help bring stability to the team.

With Coleman in the mix, we’ll likely see Smart use a lot of lineups with two ball handlers as we saw with Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix last season. That type of backcourt might suit Smart’s style of play a bit better than the current Texas roster this season.

Coleman is the fourth commitment for Texas in the Class of 2017. He joins three other four-star prospects in big man Jericho Sims, guard Jase Febres and forward Royce Hamm.