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The Morning Mix

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The theme of the weekend was “Overtime”. Ten of the 160 games this weekend went into overtime. Tennessee and Texas A&M went to quadruple overtime. Alabama and LSU went to triple overtime. Milwaukee and IUPUI went into double overtime. Seven other games featured an extra session. In all, we got 80 minutes of free basketball this weekend.

Let’s hit the links.

Monday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 8 Syracuse @ No. 17 Marquette
7:00 p.m. – Texas Tech @ No. 13 Kansas State
9:00 p.m. – Villanova @ Seton Hall
9:00 p.m. – No. 9 Kansas @ Iowa State
 
 
Top Stories:
Georgetown exacts their Big East revenge by exposing Syracuse: John Thompson III used the 2-3 zone against Syracuse to perfection on Saturday and Otto Porter did the rest, as the Hoyas ended their rivals’ 28-game home win streak.

Kendall Williams’ 46 points lead New Mexico to huge win at Colorado State: Williams’ put on one of the best individual performances of the season against a ranked Colorado State team. Oh yeah, he was 10-13 from beyond the arc.

Will Miami’s loss to Wake Forest be a wake-up call or a sign of trouble?We all knew this was coming. The ‘Canes looked vulnerable in their three previous games, and they spotted the Demon Deacons 19 points early on, a deficit Miami was unable to close.

Stony Brook clinches third America East title in last four years: Steve Pikiell is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. He took over a Stony Brook program that was an utter mess in 2005. He turned them around quickly and has led them to three America East championships in the past four seasons.

Aaron Craft’s offensive explosion keys Ohio State win over MSU: Aaron Craft makes his living as one of the top defenders in the country. But on Sunday it was his offense that fueled the Buckeyes marquee victory over Michigan State.

Oregon State freshman gets technical for dunking pregame, Beavers lose by 1 to Cal: The headline says it all.

In you had forgotten, Trey Burke is still in the Player of the Year race: Victor Oladipo and Otto Porter have stolen the Player of the Year spotlight as of late, but we shouldn’t forget about what Trey Burke is accomplishing.

Small ball gets North Carolina their third-straight win: Roy Williams changed things up last week, deciding to go with a four-guard lineup that better fit his team, and so far it seems to be working.

 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Seton Hall recruit Aquille Carr is keeping his options open and may spurn college in favor of playing overseas. (New York Post)

– Montana’s postseason hopes took a big hit this weekend when Will Cherry re-broke his foot. The Grizzlies are already without Mathias Ward, their leading scorer. (Big Sky Bball)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– The New York Times rips Duke and “Krzyzewskiville”, citing that the university is for education, not sleeping in tents. This is ripe. (New York Times)

– Nebraska head coach Tim Miles did not a make single substitution in the second half against Iowa on Saturday. It worked. The Huskers won 64-60 after trailing by as many as 19 points. He didn’t like the look of his eight-man rotation, so he shortened it up to just five. (Lincoln Journal Star)

– The City-6, also known the Big-5 plus Drexel, has three teams trying to get off the bubble and in to the big dance as the season comes to an end. (Penn Live)

– The Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry has had a lot of mediocre players. Wait, what? (Deadspin)

– Ryan Fagan takes a look at the teams on the bubble that improved their odds this weekend and those who did not. (Sporting News)

– Some NIT-ology for you because we can never have enough NIT-ology. (Big Apple Buckets)
 
 
Odds & Ends
– The ESPN Game Day bus is the ultimate road trip vehicle. But did you know that it’s unnocupied during the week? (USA Today)

– Mike Bruesewitz got a new haircut, and it’s awesome. (The Dagger)

– Right after Kansas lost to TCU, I tackled the “Top 10 upsets” of the season. CHD does a good job rehashing the bizarre 18-point home loss Villanova suffered to Columbia, and fills you in on two that just nearly missed my list. (College Hoops Digest)
 
 
Dunk of the Day:
There is no player in the country better at in-bounds ally-oops than Sam Thompson.


 
 
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Arizona’s Talbott Denny injures knee, out for season

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) Arizona senior forward Talbott Denny will miss the season after tearing the ACL and medial meniscus in his left knee.

The school said Wednesday that the 6-foot-5 graduate transfer from Lipscomb will have surgery.

Denny, from Tucson’s Salpointe Catholic High School, missed all of last season at Lipscomb because of a shoulder injury.

Roy Williams: ‘There’s no question’ more ACC games equal no Kentucky in non-conference

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Back in June, when the ACC officially announced that they would be expanding the league schedule to 20 games in 2019, I tried to warn you that it was going to put a dent into the non-conference schedule and the amount of quality, on-campus games that we’ll get prior to January.

Roy Williams essentially confirmed this as fact this week.

The North Carolina head coach hopped on a podcast with ESPN and more or less said that the bigger league schedule is going to lead to an end of some of UNC’s marquee home-and-home series.

“My feeling right now, and it could change by ’19, heck I could be fired by ’19, but my feeling right now is to play our conference schedule, play one exempt event where you have really good teams, and other than that play home games to help out your revenue and help out your budget,” Williams said. “We have the ACC/Big Ten and that’s not going to go away. So it’s 21 games already scheduled.”

When asked specifically if this would put an end to UNC’s series with Kentucky, Williams said, “Oh yeah, there’s no question. Why would I need to do that?”

There’s two reasons this makes sense. On the one hand, North Carolina needs to fill their home arena a certain number of times to help with the bottom line of the athletic department. They make enough off of ticket sales, merchandise sales, parking fees and food and beverage that they can afford to pay out more than $50,000 to bring a smaller opponent into their arena. More than that, playing a series of weaklings early in the year allows players to gain confidence, it allows Williams to figure out what his rotation will be and who can handle playing at this level, and it gives newcomers a chance to assimilate into his team against players that just aren’t that good.

And when a larger ACC schedule severely limits the number of non-conference games that UNC will be able to play, what’s going to get cut are the contracts that require the Tar Heels to play on the road when they don’t have to.

So buh-bye, Kentucky, it is.

John Calipari helping to raise money for Louisiana flood victims

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It’s easy to be critical of John Calipari.

You don’t have to be a Louisville fan to know all the jokes by now. He cheated at UMass. He cheated at Memphis. He’s had two Final Fours vacated. Teflon John. Yada yada yada.

I get it. Negativity comes with success, particularly for someone who is as brash about his success as Coach Cal is.

But even Cal’s harshest critics cannot begrudge the work he does — can get his players to do — for charity and how well he can harness the power of Big Blue Nation to make a tangible difference. Remember the ‘Hoops for Haiti’ telethon that raised more than $1 million to help earthquake victims back in 2010? Or the hundreds of thousands of dollars he raised for Hurricane Sandy relief? Or when his fantasy camps generated more than $1 million in charitable donations?

And should I mention the amount of times that stories of Kentucky players befriending sick kids or visiting children’s hospitals?

The cynic in me could say that all of this is for branding, helping ensure his players are image-conscious and aware of the sponsorship opportunities that come with being a likable, relatable and humble athlete. There’s probably some truth to that.

But do you think the kids that get visits from their Big Blue heroes care? Do you think it matters to the charities that get seven-figure checks to help with disaster relief?

I say all that to say this: During a press conference on Thursday morning, Cal had this to say, via SEC Country:

Calipari said former UK star Anthony Davis (currently of the New Orleans Pelicans) told Calipari, “Coach, you gotta do something” for Baton Rouge flood victims. Davis is out of the country but will try to get back for Sunday’s softball game to help. His 2012 title teammates, Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, were not previously on the celeb list for Sunday but will be there.

Calipari has decided to donate all proceeds from Sunday’s alumni/celebrity softball game will go to the Baton Rouge flood-relief fund, through Red Cross. “So what I’m asking you to do is buy these tickets.” They’re $5 apiece. The previously raised funds will still go to the other designated charities, like each year.

For those so inclined, you can donate to the flooding fund by texting “GIVE” to 859-955-8173.

Vermont women cancels game in North Carolina over HB2

DURHAM, NC - MAY 10:  A unisex sign and the "We Are Not This" slogan are outside a bathroom at Bull McCabes Irish Pub on May 10, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  Debate over transgender bathroom access spreads nationwide as the U.S. Department of Justice countersues North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory from enforcing the provisions of House Bill 2 that dictate what bathrooms transgender individuals can use.  (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
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The University of Vermont is the latest in a ever-growing line of organizations canceling events in North Carolina due to the controversial HB2 law.

The Catamounts will not be traveling to play the Tar Heels on Dec. 28th as previously scheduled.

“We strive very hard to create an inclusive climate for our students and staff in which they all can feel safe, respected, and valued,” the school wrote in a statement. “It would be hard to fulfill these obligations while competing in a state with this law, which is contrary to our values as an athletic department and university.”

“This decision was made in consultation with our coaches, the women’s basketball team, and key university officials. We fully understand and sympathize with the impact that this decision may have on the North Carolina women’s basketball schedule. However, we believe this decision is consistent with our values and the conversations with our coaches and student team members. These were the most important considerations.”

Known as the “bathroom bill”, HB2 is the law that requires transgender people to use the public restroom of the sex that they were born not the sex they identify with.

Earlier this year, Albany was forced to cancel a trip to Duke due to legislation in New York regarding visits to North Carolina. The NBA has taken the 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte, and the NCAA is heavily considering pulling NCAA tournament games from the state.

Interestingly, ACC commissioner John Swofford was very non-committal on the subject when asked yesterday.

Derek Willis won’t be suspended for offseason citiation

Kentucky's Derek Willis (35) hits an uncontested three point shot during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won 80-70. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
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John Calipari gave a press conference on Thursday morning and, for the first time since his arrest in June, the Kentucky head coach spoke about Derek Willis.

Willis, if you’ve forgotten, was found passed out in the street outside the open driver’s side door of his car at 4:30 a.m. You can see video of the arrest here. Willis is very lucky he wasn’t killed, and that he didn’t kill anyone else trying to drive in that condition.

Cal said that Willis will not be suspended for any games, but “Derek knows he’s under a different eye now than he was.” He did not elaborate on what kind of punishment Willis will receive beyond that, saying that “I don’t throw people under the bus.”

To be honest, I’m a little surprised that Willis won’t be forced to miss any games, but if we’re being frank, sitting out an exhibition and Kentucky’s opener sounds much more appealing than the kind of, ahem, ‘conditioning drills’ that Willis has likely spent the summer doing.