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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Top 50 SG Tyler Herro de-commits from Wisconsin

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Last September, Wisconsin landed a pledge from a highly regarded 2018 prospect as shooting guard Tyler Herro announced that he would remain in state and play for Greg Gard. Tuesday evening Herro, considered to be a Top 50 prospect by many of the major recruiting services, announced that he has decided to reopen his recruitment.

“After a lot of conversations with my family and prayer I have decided to reopen my recruitment and explore all of my options,” Herro said in a statement released via Twitter. “The past year since I committed I have grown not only as a basketball player, but as a person. My drive to become the best on all levels has been the fuel that drove this decision.”

With Herro’s change of heart, Wisconsin is now without a verbal commitment in the Class of 2018. The 6-foot-4 Milwaukee native picked Wisconsin over Arizona, Florida, Indiana, DePaul and Marquette, and given his talent Herro’s recruitment should not take long to pick up following his decision to open things back up.

The Badgers added three scholarship freshmen to the program this summer, with two being perimeter players in Brad Davison and Kobe King. Wisconsin currently does not have a senior in its perimeter rotation, which helps from a numbers standpoint when it comes to 2018. But to lose a recruit of Herro’s caliber, and an in-state prospect at that, is a major hit for the Wisconsin program to absorb.

Bob Knight requests to not be included in Assembly Hall sculptures

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On Tuesday it was announced by Indiana University that five sculptures will be placed throughout Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to pay tribute to the teams that have won national championships. With former head coach Bob Knight, who has not been on good terms with the school since his dismissal in 2000, being the head coach of three of those teams it’s fair to wonder if he would be a part of any of those sculptures.

Unfortunately Knight will not be in the sculptures for the 1976, 1981 or 1987 national championship teams, as it was noted in the release that the former coach requested to not be included. According to the Indianapolis Star, Indiana athletics director Fred Glass said that it is school policy to request permission to depict someone on this kind of project. The school reached out to Knight, who declined the request.

The sculpture honoring the 1976 team was the reason for the school reaching out to Knight, as it honors the team that is the most Division I team to go through an entire season without a loss. That teams was led by the likes of Kent Benson, Scott May and Bobby Wilkerson, and won the first of Knight’s three national titles at Indiana.

After being fired prior to the start of the 2000-01 season, Knight spent a year away from coaching before accepting the head coaching job at Texas Tech. Despite Indiana having honored former players and teams of Knight’s in recent years, the relationship between the former coach and the school he led to three national titles remains strained to this day.

As for the sculptures, fans will be able to see them for the first time at Hoosier Hysteria on October 21.

Rick Pitino files federal lawsuit against adidas

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Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino’s quest to prove that he had nothing to do with the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption and fraud in college basketball produced another development on Tuesday. As first reported by ESPN’s Jay Bilas, Pitino has filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Louisville with adidas being the lone defendant.

Per media reports, Pitino is suing the company for its “outrageous conduct in conspiring to funnel money to the family of a college basketball recruit.”

Adidas’ connection to the ongoing criminal investigation is that two of its employees within the basketball department, Jim Gatto and Merl Code, were among the ten people arrested. While no one directly tied to Louisville has been charged, FBI documents revealed connections between members of the basketball program and the accused parties.

As a result of the investigation Louisville freshman small forward Brian Bowen is being withheld from all basketball activities by the school. Bowen and his family have since hired an attorney in an attempt to get the freshman reinstated.

Among the instances of wrongdoing documented by the FBI was a transaction in which $100,000 was paid in exchange for a recruit committing to attend Louisville. The timeline of the events were close to Bowen’s commitment timeline, with the five-star prospect announcing that he would attend Louisville in early June.

As a result of the investigation Pitino was placed on unpaid by Louisville, with the school’s Board of Regents voting unanimously to fire the head coach with cause on Monday.

Northeast Conference Preview: Who survived after transfers gutted the league?

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Beginning in September and running up through November 10th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the NEC.

The NEC was absolutely brutalized by outgoing transfers this offseason. Of the 11 non-seniors that were on one of the three all-NEC teams, just four of them return to school. That includes three first-team all-NEC sophomores, but I’m not sure anyone in all of college basketball got hit quite as hard this offseason as Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian did.

Coming off of an NEC regular season title and his second trip to the NCAA tournament in the last five years, Christian saw three key pieces opt to leave. Elijah Long, a sophomore guard that was a first-team all-league player and the Mount’s leading scorer a season ago, transferred to Texas. Miles Wilson, the team’s third-leading scorer and one of the best freshmen in the conference last year, transferred to Miami. Mawdo Sallah transferred to Kansas State.

The Mountaineers do return Junior Robinson, a 5-foot-5 dynamo that will be one of the most entertaining players in the mid-major ranks, as well as Greg Alexander, but Christian is going to have his work cut out for him.

With Mount St. Mary’s – and Robert Morris, another perennial power in the league that is dealing with the loss of a star player (Isaiah Still) transferring – the favorite is probably St. Francis (PA). The Red Flash, despite losing Josh Nebo to Texas A&M, return Isiah Blackmon and reigning Freshman of the Year Keith Braxton. They return the most talent of anyone that finished in the top half of the league.

Fairleigh Dickinson is a team to keep an eye on as well, although it will be tough for them to overcome a pair of their own transfers, as Stephen Jiggetts is now at South Florida and Earl Potts left school. But Darian Anderson returns, as does Mike Holloway and Darnell Edge.

Despite losing their top two scorers from last season, LIU Brooklyn should also be back in the mix. Jashaun Agosto returns for his sophomore season after a promising freshman year while Joel Hernandez, who averaged double-figures as a junior, is back after missing last season through injury. Bryant could find their way into the mix as well, although Nisre Zouzoua’s transfer was a massive blow.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

 PRESEASON NEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Darian Anderson, Fairleigh Dickinson

Anderson is the leading returning scorer in the NEC this season, and he’ll be playing on a team that will be competing for the league title. With the Knights losing their second- and third-leading scorers from last year, Anderson is going to have more of the offensive load to carry.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-NEC TEAM

  • Junior Robinson, Mount St. Mary’s: Robinson is the second-leading returning scorer in the conference, and with the Mount losing so much, the 5-foot-5 point guard will be asked to do a lot.
  • Keith Braxton, St. Francis (PA): Braxton was the best freshman in the conference a year ago.
  • Isiah Blackmon, St. Francis (PA): Blackmon was a third-team all-NEC performer as a sophomore.
  • Joseph Lopez, Sacred Heart: Lopez is back to anchor a front line for the most veteran team in the league.

PREDICTED FINISH

1. St. Francis (PA)
2. Fairleigh Dickinson
3. LIU Brooklyn
4. Robert Morris
5. Mount St. Mary’s
6. Bryant
7. Sacred Heart
8. Wagner
9. Central Connecticut State
10. St. Francis-Brooklyn

Ohio Valley Conference Preview: A trio of teams lead the way

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Beginning in September and running up through November 10th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the Ohio Valley Conference.

Two-time OVC player of the year Evan Bradds has graduated, but Belmont remains one of the favorites to claim another conference title.

The first task for the Bruins will be figuring out how to replace or replicate Bradds’ bucket-getting that powered the offense to a 23-win season. Amanze Egekeze and Dylan Winder would both seem to be the natural heirs after posting effective field goal percentages over 60 last year. Like Bradds, both are terrors on the inside, shooting better than 65 percent on 2-pointers, but also have a dimension that Bradds didn’t – 3-point shooting, with Egekeze converting 38.7 percent and Winder 40.2 percent from distance. Without the high-usage Bradds on the roster, both will likely see huge increases in roles, with guard Austin Luke setting them up.

Murray State suffered its first losing season in over 30 years when they went 16-17 last year in Matt McMahon’s second season since succeeding Steve Prohm, but the Racers appear to be on track for an immediate bounce back. Some of the struggle last year can be attributable to plain old bad luck as Murray State went 0-4 in the regular season in overtime games and went 1-8 in games decided by five points or less. The Racers, though, will have to clean things up on the defensive end if they want to challenge for a league title. They were below-average in just about every single facet of the game on that end, and adding five freshmen into the mix may make real strides there difficult. Murray State does have, though, Jonathan Stark, who averaged nearly 22 points per game last season, and he’s a game-changer. They also added junior college standout Anthony Smith, which makes them a threat to capture the conference.

Jacksonville State didn’t look much like a spoiler heading into March last year when they finished with a 9-7 OVC record, but the Gamecocks reeled off three wins, including over league champ Belmont, in the conference tournament to snag an NCAA tournament bid. Second-team all-OVC guard Malcolm Drumwright returns for his senior season and to give coach Ray Harper another dangerous team. Seven-footer Norbertas Giga is also back after putting 30 on Louisville in the NCAA tournament. It will be critical for the Gamecocks to defend the 3-point line better this season. Between Giga and junior Christian Cunningham, Jacksonville State has solid rim protection, but allowed opponents to shoot nearly 38 percent from distance. Some of that is sure to just be variable, but bringing that number down will be a huge determinant of success.

Beyond that, the OVC is tough to project this season, as a number of last season’s contenders lost some key pieces. One group to keep an eye on: Eastern Kentucky. With Asante Gist and Nick Mayo returning, Dan McHale has one of the best 1-2 punches in the league.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

PRESEASON OVC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jonathan Stark, Murray State

The 6-foot guard returns after averaging 21.9 points in his first season with the Racers after transferring from Tulane. He got up nearly eight 3-point attempts per game, converting at a 42.5 percent clip. He’s the rare high-volume shooter that also plays efficiently.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON OVC TEAM

  • Malcolm Drumwright, Jacksonville State: All-conference guard will lead the charge for the Gamecocks to get back to the NCAA tournament.
  • Nick Mayo, Eastern Kentucky: A 39 percent 3-point shooter, Mayo scored 18.5 points per game last year.
  • Denzel Mahoney, Southeast Missouri: Mahoney was a breakout star last year as a freshman, putting up nearly 15 points per game and shooting 37.7 percent from 3.
  • Terrell Miller, Murray State: A double-double threat every night, Miller averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds per game.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @OVCSports

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Belmont
2. Murray State
3. Jacksonville State
4. Tennessee State
5. Eastern Illinois
6. Eastern Kentucky
7. SIU-Edwardsville
8. Tennessee Tech
9. Southeast Missouri
10. Morehead State
11. UT Martin
12. Austin Peay