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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

Southern Conference to keep championships in North Carolina

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) The Southern Conference will keep four league championships in North Carolina despite the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference withdrawing championships because of the state law restricting the rights of LGBT people.

The league said it will honor commitments for these tournaments: men’s soccer in Greensboro, men’s and women’s basketball in Asheville and men’s golf in Pinehurst.

“We don’t want to punish the local host communities by pulling the championships out of the state this year,” Commissioner John Iamarino said Friday. “That point did resonate with presidents and chancellors.”

The league said in a statement its presidents and chancellors “reaffirmed their resolute opposition to legislation that discriminates against any individual.”

Iamarino said his conference was prepared for criticism in light of the NCAA and ACC decisions over the North Carolina’s law, which excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from local and statewide antidiscrimination protections. It also requires transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates.

HB2 was signed into law this year by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who has defended it as a commonsense safety and security measure.

The Southern Conference is headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Its 10 schools – Citadel, Chattanooga, East Tennessee, Furman, Mercer, UNC Greensboro, Samford, VMI, Western Carolina and Wofford – are in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The decision on the championships came after two conference calls among league leaders.

“While not unanimous, we found enough common ground to get to this point,” Iamarino said.

He said the league was influenced by the North Carolina host communities, all urging the conference to hold its events as planned. In Asheville, Iamarino said he met with about 30 people, including some from the LGBT community, who promised to fight the HB2 law but wanted the basketball tournaments to remain.

Iamarino said the venues involved are privately controlled and the league is confident of there will be an inclusive atmosphere at the events. The men’s golf event will be held at Pinehurst Country Club and the basketball at a neutral site in Asheville.

The soccer will be played on the Greensboro campus.

Earlier this month, the NCAA removed seven championships from North Carolina, including first- and second-round games of the men’s basketball tournament scheduled for Greensboro. The ACC soon followed suit, pulling 10 of its championships from the state, including the football title game that was scheduled for Charlotte.

The ACC on Thursday relocated the football game to Orlando, Florida.

Iamarino said Southern Conference presidents and chancellors will meet in May to see if more action is necessary. He said there’s concern similar laws could extend beyond North Carolina.

“This could be a long-term issue,” he said.

Iamarino said he’s also concerned the schools against keeping the championships in North Carolina might take their own actions, perhaps boycotting the league events played there.

“It’s a real concern,” he said. “We’ll continue to communicate and prepare for everything.”

Report: Virginia Tech forward Blackshear still recovering from offseason foot surgery

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Kerry Blackshear Jr. #24 of the Virginia Tech Hokies and Kamari Murphy #21 of the Miami Hurricanes go for a rebound in the second half during the quarterfinals of the 2016 ACC Basketball Tournament Verizon Center on March 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Virginia Tech sophomore forward Kerry Blackshear will miss the start of training camp as he continues to recover from offseason foot surgery, according to a report from Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The 6-foot-10 Blackshear played in all 35 games for the Hokies last season as he battled through the foot injury to average 6.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. According to Barber’s report, Blackshear had surgery on his right foot five days after the 2015-16 season ended, but he’s still wearing a walking boot to help recover. There has been no timetable given for Blackshear’s return.

Blackshear will be a key piece for a Virginia Tech team that is a bit thin up front this season. Freshman Khadim Sy can provide some minutes up front, but he’s inexperienced and center Nick Fullard has to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. Getting a healthy Blackshear will be a key storyline for a Virginia Tech team that many will have in the preseason top 25.

Indiana roster dealing with handful of injuries as practice begins

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 20:  A general view of  the SMU Mustangs game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall on November 20, 2014 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Indiana has been hit with the injury buy a bit during the start of practice and it doesn’t only involved the recent announcement of knee surgery for senior Collin Hartman.

According to a report from the Indiana Daily Student the Hoosiers are also dealing with a knee injury for junior college transfer forward Freddie McSwain and sophomore Juwan Morgan hasn’t been cleared for practice yet after offseason shoulder surgery.

The 6-foot-6 McSwain had a knee injury flare up when he came to Indiana and had surgery to clean it up. Crean told the Indiana Daily Student that McSwain was still a few weeks from returning.

That means Indiana has to find early practice minutes to replace Hartman, Morgan and McSwain up front which gives more reps to players like O.G. Anunoby and freshman big man De’Ron Davis.

Since Anunoby and Davis both dealt with some offseason injuries and guard Robert Johnson was recently cleared to return, Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean is remaining cautious during the early part of practice this season. Crean also has to monitor the return of starting guard James Blackmon Jr. after he missed most of last season with a torn ACL.

“We would have already practiced this morning and they would be ready to go tonight, if this were a year ago,” Crean said in the report. “We have to tailor make this thing. We can’t be in too much of a rush with these guys.”

Obviously, the frontcourt injuries are something to keep an eye on for Indiana during the early part of the season. None of the three injuries seem severe, but Hartman’s timetable to return hasn’t been listed and McSwain and Morgan are missing valuable early time in practice.

It’ll be interesting to see if this helps younger players like Anunoby and Davis get more acquainted with the first team early on since both could have an impact this season.

Texas lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Jase Febres

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Texas and head coach Shaka Smart continue to recruit at a high level, especially in the state of Texas, as the Longhorns landed a commitment from Class of 2017 four-star guard Jase Febres on Friday night.

The 6-foot-5 Febres is considered the No. 63 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings as he burst on the national radar this summer with some strong shooting performances. Febres shot over 40 percent from three-point range during the month of July after battling through injury during the spring. Besides owning good size for a wing shooter, Febres also takes pride in defending and he can rebound a bit from the wing as well.

Febres is going to have to improve his overall offensive package if a defense plays him off the three-point line, but he has upside as a three-and-D guy with the Longhorns.

The Class of 2017 is starting to round into shape for Texas as Febres joins four-star power forward Jericho Sims and four-star forward Royce Hamm. Since taking over the Texas job, Smart has done a great job of keeping local talent home as he now has five four- and five-star prospects from the state in the last two classes.

 

VIDEO: Kentucky fans get married in the ticket line for Big Blue Madness

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Kentucky fans have unique ways of making their annual Big Blue Madness event the most chaotic tip-off event of the season. While Big Blue Nation is waiting in line for tickets to this year’s festivities in Tent City, one couple decided to go the extra mile.

After securing the first spot in line for tickets, Ray Branham and Vicki Harvey opted to get married. According to a post from Drew Franklin of Kentucky Sports Radio, the couple had already been talking about tying the knot, but decided to make the move once they had the top spot in line. As you can see by the wedding video, it was a very Kentucky-themed ceremony as the duo got married in front of friends and other Kentucky fans.

I can’t say I’m surprised two Kentucky fans decided to get married in line for something like Big Blue Madness and this (unplanned) wedding gives this year’s event something unique that we will always remember.