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

Arizona lands Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther

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Arizona landed a key addition for its frontcourt on Wednesday as Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther pledged to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-9 Luther is expected to receive a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com, as Arizona gets some much-needed help up front.

Playing in 10 games last season before a stress reaction in his right foot ended the season, Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. In his final game of the season, Luther went for 13 points and 12 rebounds in a Pitt loss to West Virginia. Luther shot 45 percent from the field and is a noted perimeter threat as he was 38 percent from behind the three-point line.

Luther hasn’t logged heavy minutes as a contributor through a full season. Mostly a role player at Pitt until last season, Luther was the team’s most productive player when he was on the floor. But that production also didn’t come during ACC play and through the course of a full season.

Thankfully at a program like Arizona, Luther should have a bit more help around him. He could be a nice addition to the Wildcats, particularly if he rebounds and spaces the floor in the frontcourt as he did at Pitt. Arizona needed someone like Luther to provide more stability after losing players like Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.

In the last few weeks, Arizona has rebounded nicely to land three commitments for next season — including freshmen Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans. The group isn’t as heralded as some past Arizona recruiting efforts. Given where the Wildcats were in recruiting a few weeks ago, however, this isn’t a bad turnaround.

TCU extends Jamie Dixon’s contract by two more years

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TCU has given head coach Jamie Dixon a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, according to a release from the school.

Dixon took the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years this season as he’s done a great job of turning around his alma mater. The release also notes that TCU had the highest average attendance in program history this season. Fans are also taking notice of a revitalized team.

With back-to-back 20-win seasons and postseason appearances, Dixon and TCU have a lot of positive momentum going on right now. The two-year extension for Dixon should help a bit in recruiting when it comes to overall stability, as well, as he’s been able to attract some quality talent so far.

Report: Kevin Ollie claims UConn violated rights with firing

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Fired former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights during his departure.

Ollie sent a letter to UConn school president Susan Herbst which was obtained by ESPN’s Myron Medcalf in a report released on Wednesday. Ollie’s lawyers are claiming the school proceeded with his firing before giving Ollie a proper chance to contest his termination — which was guaranteed in his contract and also the collective bargaining agreement with the University of Connecticut’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. Ollie was fired, with cause, in late March as the school mentioned an NCAA inquiry as the reason why. According to Medcalf’s report, the NCAA has not sent a notice of allegations to the school.

Ollie’s union membership includes thousands of faculty members around the country as the collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct. Ollie claims he didn’t receive a letter he was supposed to get to begin the termination process.

“From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie’s employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie’s] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie’s opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment,” said the letter dated April 3.

“The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie’s property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

This letter to UConn likely begins a long legal battle to try to get an eight-figure payout back as Ollie is going to do everything he can to clear his name.

South Carolina’s Brian Bowen, still ineligible, to declare for draft

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Former Louisville forward and current South Carolina Gamecock Brian Bowen will declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent as a safety measure in case the NCAA does not clear him to play in the 2018-19 season.

Bowen is the former top 25 prospect that was forced to leave the Louisville program after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college hoops turned up evidence that his family had accepted the first payment of what was supposed to be a $100,000 fee to get him to be a Cardinal.

That investigation was ultimately what got Rick Pitino fired.

“I just felt that it was the right decision,” Bowen told ESPN. “My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.”

Bowen is in a tough spot right now.

On the one hand, he has already missed an entire season of college basketball and there is no guarantee that he will be cleared to play next season, if at all.

On the other hand, the fact that he has not played in a year and that he has not played against any collegiate level competition is one of the reasons that NBA front offices are going to be hesitant to draft him, and that’s not a good thing for a player that was considered a second round pick before he spent a year on the sidelines.

North Carolina’s Cam Johnson undergoes hip surgery

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For the second time in the last six months, North Carolina wing Cam Johnson has undergone the knife.

On Wednesday, North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip on Monday, and that he is expected to make a full recovery and return to school in time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was UNC’s third-leading scorer a season ago, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 34.1 percent from three. He only played 26 games, however, after missing time due to a surgery to fix a torn meniscus.