The Morning Mix

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Not too much heavy lifting last night. Cal beat Oregon thanks to a Justin Cobbs buzzer-beater. Delaware beat Drexel in double overtime on a controversial no call, and if you get to the bottom, you’ll be rewarded with a hilarious story about a radio broadcaster who doesn’t take no flack from no referee.

Enjoy.

Let’s hit the links.

Friday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Saint Louis @ No. 15 Butler
7:00 p.m. – North Dakota State @ Akron
9:00 p.m. – Stephen F. Austin @ Long Beach State
 
 
Top Stories:
CBT Podcast: NCAA Tournament contenders gear up for the stretch run: Rob Dauster joins Troy Machir (That’s me) to discuss the latest news and notes from the college hoops world. It’s called “The best 30 minutes in college basketball” for a reason.

NCAA tournament berth, Pac-12 regular season crown well within California’s reach: A Justin Cobbs’ jumper with 0.7 seconds remaining sealed a victory for the Golden Bears over No. 23 Oregon. Cal has now won six of their last seven and are still in contention for an at-large birth and a Pac-12 Championship.

Delaware’s double overtime win over Drexel features controversial finish: A Frantz Massenat runner in the final seconds of double overtime was blocked by Delaware’s Jamelle Hagins, and it certainly looked as if the officials missed a goaltending violation.

Shabazz Napier, Kevin Ollie angling for Big East postseason hardware: Kevin Ollie is the leading candidate for Big East Coach of the Year, and junior guard Shabazz Napier has to be considered a top contender for the Big East Player of the Year award, all the while unable to participate in postseason play.

Balanced effort in win over Big 5 rival La Salle bodes well for Temple: The Atlantic-10 looks like a four team league, with a handful of teams fighting for that last spot. La Salle could have solidified their resume with a win over Temple, but the Owls prevailed.

Month of February once again problematic for Minnesota: over the last three years Minnesota has amassed a 4-17 record in the month of February. That’s not a good stat. The Gophers are slipping and sliding towards the bubble.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Former Boston Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine has been named as the new Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University. Yeah, I’m confused too. (ESPN)

– Two former Miami basketball assistants filed a motion on Thursday to have their infractions cases dismissed because of mistakes made by the NCAA. (ESPN)

– Montana is in first place in the Big Sky Conference with a 15-1 record. But they could be without their leading scorer Mathias Ward for a while due to a foot injury. This is bad news for the Grizzlies and good news for Weber State, who sits in second place at 14-2. (Big Sky BBall)

Michigan State guard Gary Harris is still dealing with shoulder issue. The freshman has been banged up all season and recently had his left shoulder pop out of its socket against Indiana. (College Basketball Talk)

– Syracuse freshman Dajuan Coleman returned to practice for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in late January. Four week to recovery from knee surgery? Impressive. (Syracuse Post-Standard)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– The latest installment of Jeff Goodman’s “Good ‘N Plenty” covers a wide variety of subjects with inside information that only Goodman can get. I think. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Seth Davis debunks a bevy of myths tied to Selection Sunday in his latest “Hoops Thoughts” column. (Sports Illustrated)

– Dick “Hoops” Weiss thinks the NCAA should penalize themselves when they make an error just as a university would if they did something illegal. In principle, this makes sense. The problem is that the solution is not very practical. (New York Daily News)

– The Big Ten is known for such low-scoring affairs that its unofficial motto is “first to fifty”. This study from Mark Bashuk puts some statistics to go with the motto. (The Big Lead)

– Northwestern will not make the tournament this season, thus continuing their streak of NCAA tournament futility. Bill Carmody has been at Northwestern for 13 years, and has been on the hot seat for nearly all of them. Is this the year he finally gets canned? (Lake the Posts)

– Tom Izzo calls the groin-punching incident involving Derrick Nix “ridiculous”. (MLive.com)

– An all-inclusive look at the races for conference championships. (College Hoops Heaven)

– Could Nerlens Noel still win the Freshman of the Year award in the SEC despite missing the final month of the season due to an ACL injury. (Rush The Court)
 
 
Odds & Ends
– Bob Ramsey is the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Saint Louis Billikens. During their big win over VCU on Wednesday, a referee had some issues with what Ramsey had to say during the broadcast. Not only is this incident in its elf absolutely hilarious, but Ramsey’s response is sheer gold. (The Dagger)
 
 
Video of the Day:
What you are about to see is the greatest halfcourt shot in the history of Earth. No, I am not joking at all.

 
 
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 (@Tro

College Basketball Coaches Poll: Michigan State moves atop the Top 25

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Michigan State is your new No. 1 team in the country, according to the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Spartans received 20 of a possible 32 first-place votes after their comeback from 27 points down to beat Northwestern on the road on Saturday.

Virginia is still sitting at No. 2 while Villanova and Xavier round out the top four. Duke climbed a few spots to No. 5.

Here is the full coaches poll:

1. Michigan State (20 first-place votes)
2. Virginia (8)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
6. Gonzaga
7. Texas Tech
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Wichita State
13. Auburn
14. Arizona
15. Ohio State
16. Michigan
17. Clemson
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Saint Mary’s
21. West Virginia
22. Nevada
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee State
25. Arizona State

Was Bob Huggins justified in his anger over foul shots in Kansas win over West Virginia?

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Much has been made of Bob Huggins’ ejection on Saturday evening, as West Virginia blew yet another double-digit lead at Phog Allen Fieldhouse as Kansas picked up a critical, 77-69 win.

The ejection was hilarious, and everything that I want to remember Huggy Bear by: Cussing out all three refs as he earns his second technical and an ejection while needing to hold up his pants with his hands:

Huggs is a national treasure.

The more interesting conversation, however, centered around why Huggins was tossed. Kansas shot 35 free throws on Saturday. West Virginia shot just two, which is an absolutely staggering number.

And I thought this was deserving of further scrutiny.

Let’s start with the obvious: West Virginia fouls a lot, enough that it’s not an exaggeration to say that a foul could probably be called on every possession. Part of the strategy of playing the way that Press Virginia does is that they are betting that officials are not going to call a foul on every possession, because they won’t. West Virginia is also a jump-shooting team this season, as nearly 40 percent of their field goal attempts come from beyond the arc. Their free throw rate both offensively and defensively is dead last in the Big 12.

Put another way, the Mountaineers are always going to be outshot from the free throw line.

Then you have to combine that with the Kansas stats. The Jayhawks are second in the Big 12 on offensive free throw rate and third in defensive free throw rate. Throw in the home court advantage that comes with playing in the Phog, and the safest bet in the world would have been Kansas outshooting West Virginia from the charity stripe.

It also needs to be noted that the 35-2 advantage was 27-2 before West Virginia started fouling intentionally and before Kansas went to the line for those two late Huggins’ technical fouls.

But that didn’t stop Huggins from going off in the press conference after the game:

“We blew the game last year,” Huggins said. “We should have won the game. We had the game. They did a great job, they made shots, we threw it around, we missed free throws, we did everything humanly possible to lose the game. That was us.”

“I’ve been doing this 40 years. I don’t I’ve ever been in a game where we shot two free throws. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where the disparity 35-2. I’ve never been in a game like that.”

But perhaps his most telling line was this, when asked what his message to his team was:

“It wasn’t their fault.”

It’s pretty clear that Huggins believed his team was hosed on the road.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

West Virginia is normally going to shoot fewer free throws than their opponents. Kansas is normally going to shoot more free throws that their opponents. Studies have proven that home environments in college basketball have an impact referee decisions as much as any sport in the world, including English soccer. That’s part of having a home court advantage, and it’s part of the advantage of having a rowdy, raucous and loud crowd. It’s why places like Phog Allen, and Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Koch Arena, and the McKale Center, and anywhere else with a big and loud fan base.

But 35-2 is 35-2, and it will take quite a bit of video evidence to proof to me that Kansas did not get a significant benefit from playing in front of their home crowd on Saturday night.

So did the referees cost West Virginia the game?

Debatable. I’d argue that Jevon Carter missing some shots and Daxter Miles’ insistence on passing up open threes to try and pass the ball to players going for a rebound played a pretty big role, as did the fact that Kansas is a really good team that made some big shots down the stretch.

But the whistles played some kind of a role.

Just like they always do in the Phog.

College Basketball AP Poll: Virginia, Michigan State, Villanova top the Top 25

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Virginia remained in the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll while Michigan State and Villanova still sit at No. 2 and No. 3 with Xavier once again in fourth.

The biggest change in the poll was that Duke rose to No. 5 after three straight wins; they were No. 12 last week.

Kentucky is still not a part of the top 25.

Here is the full AP Poll:

1. Virginia (42 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State (19)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
t-6. Texas Tech
t-6. Gonzaga
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Auburn
13. Wichita State
14. Arizona
15. Clemson
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Nevada
21. West Virginia
22. Saint Mary’s
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee
25. Florida State

VIDEO: Wichita State celebrates in locker room after win over Cincinnati

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Wichita State went into Cincinnati — well, Northern Kentucky — on Sunday evening and landed their biggest win of the season.

They were fired up about it, as you might imagine.

And their locker room celebrating after the win was, as the kids say, litty:

Here’s the funny part to me: This game wasn’t played at Cincinnati. It wasn’t played at Wichita State. It was played at Northern Kentucky, where the Bearcats are playing their home games while they wait for the renovations on their arena to be completed.

Which means that some poor NKU employee that had nothing to do with either of these two programs had to spend the time cleaning up this mess.

CBT Podcast: Monday Overreactions: Villanova-Xavier, the Big 12 is drunk, the best in the Big Ten is … ?

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Rob Dauster was joined by Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic on today’s show to overreact to everything that happened this weekend, from Villanova pasting Xavier to the insanity that is the Big 12 to what happened in the Big Ten in the last ten days. We also spend a good 30 minutes talking about bubble teams, tournament resumes and some misconceptions with both. The rundown.

OPEN: Bubble Banter. We talk about weird bubble teams and whether or not we like the new Quadrant system.

36:08: Villanova’s win over Xavier and the Big East title race.

45:15: The Big 12 makes no sense and I love it.

58:30: Michigan State deserves the Big Ten title.