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The Morning Mix

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Indiana and Florida lost on the road last night. Minnesota and Tennessee both picture up resume-boosting wins. Wednesday features a bevy of games with serious tournament implications.

It might be Hump Day, but we have a lot to get to and a lot to look forward to.

Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
6:30 p.m. – No. 4 Michigan @ Penn State
7:00 p.m. – Virginia Tech @ No. 5 Miami
7:00 p.m. – No. 7 Georgetown @ Connecticut
7:00 p.m. – Akron @ Ohio
8:00 p.m. – Saint Joseph’s @ No. 18 Saint Louis
9:30 p.m. – No. 11 Arizona @ USC
10:15 p.m. – San Diego State @ No. 14 New Mexico
11:00 p.m. – Colorado @ Stanford

Read of the Day:
Dana O’Neil sheds some light on Orlando Sanchez’s NCAA eligibility situation. It’s a shame the NCAA doesn’t operate with common sense, because that’s really what is needed here. (ESPN)

Read of the Day:
A fantastic read from Dave Roth on the cult of the coach. A tremendous piece of writing. Read it. (Sports on Earth)

Read of the Day:
Andy Glockner provides the latest installment of “Bubble Watch”. You know what to do with this. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
All it took was the first 6:05 for Trevor Mbakwe to beat Indiana: Minnesota big man Trevor Mbakwe shot out of the gates last night, scoring 10 points and making big stops in the games’ first six minutes. That was the momentum boost that the Gophers needed to get them over the top.

Cody Zeller tentative in No. 1 Indiana’s loss to Minnesota, raises concern for Hoosiers: Cody Zeller finished with just nine points on 2-of-9 shooting last night in the Hoosiers’ road loss to Minnesota. Victor Oladipo might be the National Player of the Year, but Indiana won’t win the National Championship if Zeller is tentative.

Bus carrying Maine women’s basketball team reportedly involved in ‘serious accident’: A charter bus reportedly carrying members of the Maine women’s basketball team was involved in a serious crash along Interstate 95 in Georgetown, Mass.

Big 12 admits error was made near end of Kansas’ win over Iowa State:the Big 12 admitted that mistakes were made by the officiating crew at the end of regulation of the Kansas-Iowa State game from Monday, though the conference would not point to a specific play or sequence.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– The 30 finalists for Naismith Player of the Year were announced yesterday. (Card Chronicle)

– Oregon desperately needs freshman point guard Dominic Artis back on the court. The Ducks have been a different squad while he’s sat out with a foot injury. It looks like Artis will be to return this Thursday when Oregon faces Oregon State. (Oregon Live)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– It appears that the Catholic-7 is very close to making an announcement regarding the league’s future. (A Jersey Guy)

– As Jason McIntyre suggests, use defensive efficiency numbers when determining which teams you think will make the Final Four. (The Big Lead)

– Duke forward Ryan Kelly is expected to return to the hardwood for the Blue Devil’s Senior Night game against Miami. Duke was a different team with Kelly in the lineup, but what exactly should we expect from him now that he’s back? (Duke Hoop Blog)

– Memphis has been steamrolling through a weak Conference-USA. But the Tigers always seem to come up short when they play a step up in competition. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Mike DeCourcy explains why the Akron Zips are built to succeed in the NCAA Tournament this year. (Sporting News)

– Seth Greenberg breaks down his list of the top-ten “match-up nightmares”. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo is the obvious choice, but his no. 2 selection might throw you off. (ESPN)

– I’m still confused as to why former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine would take the job as Athletic Director at Sacred Heart. (New York Daily News)

– Jim Boeheim snapped at CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman following Syracuse’s loss on Monday at Marquette. HEre is Goodman’s response, and it’s on point and completely valid. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Ohio vs. Akron is the mid-major game of the night. If Ohio is able to beat Akron, ending the nation’s longest active win streak, the no. 1 seed for the MAC tournament could get determined via coin flip. (Hustle Belt)

– Georgetown is in first place in the Big East and will head to Storrs, Conn. tonight to play UConn in the Gampel Pavilion. Surprisingly enough, Georgetown has never won inside Gampel Pavilion. (Hartford Courant)

– North Carolina State has had its share of ebbs and flows this season. The same can be said of star forward Travis Leslie. If the Wolfpack want to have any postseason success, they will need Leslie to step his game up. (Wilmington Star News)

– Making the case for Gee McGhee as SoCon Freshman of the Year. (Mocs Mania)

– In his latest “Tuesday Truths” entry, Jon Gasaway takes a look at how BCS-conference teams are doing against league opponents on a per possession basis. (Basketball Prospectus)

– It does not appear as if Mike Krzyzewski will be returning to the sidelines as the head coach of the US Olympic team. (USA Today)
 
 
Odds & Ends
– This might just be the most disturbing thing Twitter conversation I’ve ever read. Seriously, people like this need to get punished for their words. (Busted Coverage)

– A pretty awesome timeline of all the upsets No. 1 teams have suffered this year. (USA Today)

– It looks like Cincinnati, Louisville, Baylor and a few other schools will be getting camouflage uniforms, similar to what they wore last year during the post season. (Bearcats Blog)

– The following link takes you to an actual video of a Division I college basketball player taking a jump shot on a free throw attempt. Ryan Evans has been absolutely plagued by free throw issues this season. He’s got a serious case of the “yips”. I suppose this is the last resort. (The Big Ten Network)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Jordan McRae did just about everything last night against Florida. And yes, I mean EVERYTHING. (H/T @WesRucker247)

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
Trevor Mbakwe crumples Cody Zeller with A TREMENDOUS BLOCK!


 
 
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Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.