Top 10 tidbits: Indiana, Jim Larranaga and more

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Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. Look for his Top 10 Tidbits every week.

1. Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls, Will Sheehey, …etc.  No more needs to be said.  In this wild season of college hoops, it’s taken us until the third week of February to finally settle on a team. Regardless of how the rankings bump around at the top for the home stretch, how do you bet against the Indiana Hoosiers right now in Atlanta?

2. Miami is ranked No. 2 in the country, hasn’t lost a game since Christmas Day and is 13-0 in the ACC, three games clear of 2nd-place Duke. If you take into account rebuilding jobs, Tom Crean is the Coach of the last three years as a whole — but Jim Larranaga from Miami is this season’s Coach of the Year.

3. UConn won a huge conference game vs. Cincinnati Thursday.  And the most unique stat in a long time took place in that game. The Huskies scored 18 points in the 2nd half — and then scored 18 points in the five-minute overtime session.

4. How about Florida International?  Richard Pitino took over an 8-21 disaster from Isiah Thomas nearly a year ago and had a lot of work ahead of him.  In the off-season he overhauled the roster, he changed the way his home court would look on game nights, but most importantly, he has people in Miami talking hoops.  FIU won their 15th game Thursday night on Senior Night and are somehow in 3rd place in the Sun Belt.

5. Keep your eye of Fran McCaffery’s team out at Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 17-9 overall, 6-7 in league and are currently in 7th place. However, other than #1 Indiana, the other 4 games left for Iowa are Nebraska twice, Purdue and Illinois. So there is a chance Iowa is 21-10 and 10-8 heading into the Big Ten Tournament.

6. After a lackluster start, Boston University has been on fire the last month.  The Terriers have won 10 out of their last 12 and are now tied for second in the America East.

7. One team receiving a lot of buzz right now is Sacred Heart of the NEC.  Former Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine will be named athletic director at Sacred Heart, the Connecticut Post reported Thursday. Valentine doesn’t have to worry about the baseball program, which has won the NEC two of the last three years.

8. Andre Roberson from Colorado is currently the nation’s leading rebounder — a title I thought O.D. Anosike from Siena would have the entire season.

9. Freshman James Robinson from Pittsburgh has the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the Big East — not just amongst rookies…that includes everyone in the league.

10. And speaking of Big East rookies — they might as well just give the Rookie of the Year Award right now to JaKarr Sampson from St. John’s.

Follow Vin on Twitter at @VinParise and check him out this Saturday breaking down the Mountain West all day in studio at NBC Sports Network with @carolynmanno.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.