The Morning Mix

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Wednesday night chaos has become a weekly occurrence this season. Penn State shocked the world, getting their first Big-Ten win of the season, beating No.4 Michigan. Georgetown got their first win inside Gampel Pavilion, needing Otto Porter heroics to defeat UConn in double-OT. Texas rallied back from a 22-point deficit to defeat Oklahoma. Arizona lost to USC, and Chane Behanan almost killed Worrel Clahar.

As you can see, we have a lot to get to.

So let’s hit the links.

Thursday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 16 Ohio State @ Northwestern
7:00 p.m. – Detroit @ Temple
8:00 p.m. – Utah State @ No. 25 Louisiana Tech
9:00 p.m. – No. 3 Duke @ Virginia
11:00 p.m. – No. 2 Gonzaga @ BYU
11:00 p.m. – Oregon State @ No. 24 Oregon

Read of the Day:
A phenomenal feature on cardboard big heads. Yep, your read of the day is about cardboard big heads. But seriously, it’s written by George Dohrmann, the author of “Play Their Hearts Out”, so you know it’s good stuff. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
Otto Porter delivers again in 2OT win over UConn (VIDEO):Georgetown trailed Connecticut by seven points in double overtime, 78-71, with 2:03 to play. But Otto Porter scored five of the final seven points, including the game-winning layup with nine seconds remaining.

No. 4 Michigan upset by Penn State, how worrisome is their defense? Teams that struggle with defensive efficiency don’t often survive March Madness very long. Prior to giving up 84 points against then-0-13 Penn State, the Wolverines ranked 42nd in defensive efficiency. That’s not good if you want to contend for a National Championship.

Akron takes control of the MAC with thrilling, OT win over Ohio: The Akron Zips extended their NCAA-leading 19-game win streak last night, defeating the 2012 MAC Champions 88-81 in one of the best seasons of the game. It was high-major #MACtion.

Just how good is New Mexico? Is a No. 1 seed in their future? Potentially: With three games left in regular season play, the Lobos have a stranglehold on the Mountain West Conference championship. But just how good is this New Mexico team? With all the movement within the top-10, a No.1-seed come March isn’t out of the question.

Louisville’s Chane Behanan delivers the most violent dunk of the season (VIDEO): Unquestionably the most violent display of posterization I have ever seen. Just watch.

Bubble Banter: Who helped their tournament chances?Creighton, Ole Miss, Kentucky and Boise State all kept their NCAA Tournament hopes alive with wins last night.

Bubble Banter: Who hurt their tournament chances? Oklahoma, Wichita State are all watching tournament bids slip by the wayside.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Fairleigh Dickinson will reportedly fire coach Greg Vetrone at end of season. (College Basketball Talk)

– A proposal to build a statue of Terrapin-great Len Bias at a local high school has been withdrawn because of concerns that it would send the wrong message to students. (Washington Post)

– The status of UNLV forward Anthony Bennett is day-to-day as he continues to deal with shoulder pain. (Las Vegas Sun)

– Florida has dealt with the injury bug all season. On Wednesday, all three banged up Gators, Will Yeguete, Michael Frazier and Casey Prather were cleared to practice again. The Gators will need a healthy squad if they want to contend in March. (Alligator Army)

– Iowa State police are investigating death threats made against Kansas guard Elijah Johnson following his heroic performance against the Cyclones on Monday. (Wichita Eagle)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Oh look, ANOTHER opinion piece about how college basketball sucks. Thanks but no thanks. (Virginia Pilot)

– Coaches want to control the game, which is why we are seeing less possessions and lower scores. (Post and Courier)

– Thanks to the Mountaineers loss to Baylor last night, Bob Huggins is one loss away from securing his first regular season losing record since 1985. (Eye on College Basketball)

– At the beginning of the month, back when TCU defeated Kansas, I broke down the top-ten upsets of the season. Penn State’s upset win over No. 4 Michigan last night is definitely worthy of a top-5 slot. (Eye on College Basketball)

– An updated look at the entertaining race for the Big-Ten Championship. Five teams still have a shot at winning the regular season title. (Inside the Hall)

– C.J. Moore attempts to explain why Kansas’ Ben McLemore has avoided clutch moments on the road. (Bleacher Report)

– Wanna know how I know Wednesday was bonkers? USC beat Arizona. Nobody saw that coming. (CBS Local Los Angeles)

– There is a strong debate forming about whether or not Gonzaga should be a No.1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The last “mid-major” to do so was John Calipari’s Memphis team in 2008. How do the two squads compare? (Eye on College Basketball)

– A day after Coach-K said he was finished coaching Team USA basketball, Jerry Colangelo says that talk will have to wait. (ESPN)

– Maryland guard Seth Allen was almost forced to quit basketball after injuring his elbow in a 2007 bike crash. (Baltimore Sun)

– Oklahoma blew a 22-point lead with seven minutes remaining against Texas. Yeah, the Sooners might have a few issues. (Cream and Crimson Machine)

– According to an AP report, Miami booster Nevin Shapiro gave $170,000 in impermissible benefits to Hurricane players, recruits, coaches and others between 2002 and 2010. (Yahoo Sports)
 
 
Tweet of the Day:
Kentucky sophomore Ryan Harrow, formerly of NC-State, on his senior teammate Julius Mays, also formerly of NC-State AND Wright State. We all kid, but six years of college would have been awesome. (H/T @ThomasBeisner)

 
 
Video of the Day:
Here’s the deal. I’m sick of the Harlem Shake and so are you. But this rendition from the Oakland Golden Grizzlies is just so hilarious, I had to share. The story behind the making of the video is just as funny. Seriously, I wouldn’t do this too you unless it was legit. This is legit. (Oakland Press)


 
 
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Iowa’s McCaffery says, “I’ve turned programs in” for cheating

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There aren’t a lot of unwritten rules in basketball. One of them, though, is that if a coach breaks a real rule, other coaches don’t speak up. Coaches would seemingly rather lose out on a recruit or transfer rather than turning in one of their own for suspected malfeasance.

Not for Fran McCaffery, though.

The Iowa coach was asked Monday about the FBI investigation into corruption into college hoops, and freely volunteered that he has previously turned other programs in for violations – and that he’ll do it again, if need be.

“I’ve turned programs in and I’ll continue to do that when I know that there’s something going on,” McCaffery said at the program’s media day, according to the Des Moines Register. “But a lot of times you don’t know what’s going on. So can you police yourselves? Only if you know something’s going on. But even then it’s hard for the NCAA to do something.”

Turning in another program for violations is really one of the biggest taboos in the coaching profession. That’s why you get coaches look silly in blocking schools for transfers when tampering is suspected, rather than a coach just reporting tampering.

McCaffery’s tactic, while probably frowned upon by many of his colleagues, is probably the best weapon the NCAA has in combating cheating. If coaches make it clear they won’t tolerate cheating – or that if it occurs, it won’t go unremarked upon – that will go along way in changing a culture and system that the FBI is going to potentially uncover with its wide-ranging investigation that already has resulted in 10 people’s arrest and a Hall of Fame coach’s firing.

“Any time the game is cleaned up,” McCaffery said, “it’s better for all of us.”

Report: Louisville offered $1.5 million settlement to Pitino

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When it became clear that Louisville and Rick Pitino were going to part ways, much of the discussion instantly turned to the more than $40 million left on the coach’s contract.

The school reportedly tried to avoid that whole ordeal Monday, but Pitino apparently wasn’t interested.

Louisville offered to pay $1.5 million to a charity started by Pitino in exchange for his resignation, according to WDRB-TV Louisville. Pitino did not accept and was then fired for cause by the Louisville board.

It’s little surprise to see Pitino reject such an offer with so many more millions on the table should he (almost certainly) begin legal proceedings trying to recoup the cash that Louisville says it doesn’t owe him by firing for cause.

I vehemently reject (the school’s) right to do so ‘for cause,’” Pitino said in an affidavit sent to the school. “I have given no ’cause’ for termination of my contract.”

The firing came on the heels of the latest controversy  to hit Louisville under Pitino’s watch. First came the escort scandal that rocked the program, but now the school is part of the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. Ten people were arrested as part of the probe, including an adidas executive who is alleged to have orchestrated getting $100,000 to the family of a recruit in order to facilitate his commitment to the Cardinals program.

Pitino may be out at Louisville, but with more than $40 million at stake, the school surely hasn’t seen the last of him.

Louisville officially fires Rick Pitino

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Louisville’s Athletic Association has officially fired head coach Rick Pitino nearly three weeks after an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball linked the Hall of Fame head coach and his program to a $100,000 payment from Adidas to a recruit that enrolled at Louisville.

The association, made up of trustees, faculty, student and administrators, oversees Louisville athletics. They voted unanimously to fire Pitino.

Pitino has $44 million in salary remaining on his contract, which extends through the 2026 season. He was with Louisville for 16 seasons.

Pitino had been ‘effectively fired‘ by the university on September 27th, the day after the scandal first broke.

Earlier this summer, Louisville had received their sanctions from the NCAA in a different scandal that enveloped Pitino’s program. In October of 2015, a book was published by an escort named Katina Powell who alleged that a member of Pitino’s staff had paid for strippers and prostitutes for recruits and members of the Louisville team, some of whom were underage. The NCAA’s sanctions, which included vacating the 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Title in addition to Louisville’s self-imposed 2016 postseason ban, were handed down in June, two weeks after a Louisville coach had allegedly helped facilitate a $100,000 payment from Adidas to Brian Bowen’s family and six weeks before another coach would allegedly attempt to do the same for a 2019 prospect.

Kansas’ Self: Adidas case a “dark cloud on our profession’

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self had come to know James Gatto well over the years, along with just about everyone else involved with the college basketball side of the athletic apparel giant Adidas.

It comes with the territory as one of the company’s flagship schools.

But when Self first heard that Gatto had been swept up in a wide-ranging FBI investigation, centered on Louisville but uncovering corruption elsewhere in college basketball, the Jayhawks’ coach admitted being “very disappointed and disheartened” and likened it to a “dark cloud for our profession.”

Prosecutors have accused the 47-year-old Gatto of conspiring with coaches and others to funnel payments to top prospects and their families to win commitments to play at schools sponsored by Adidas. The idea was that their relationship with Adidas would continue whenever they reached the professional level.

The family of one prospect was allegedly paid $100,000 to commit, according to court documents, and the school was later revealed to be Louisville. The school has since placed coach Rick Pitino on administrative leave while the federal investigation is being resolved. Nine others, including former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, have been charged in the case.

Self said during a lengthy interview Friday that the cash payments from Adidas surprised him, but “what is not surprising is third parties’ involvement in recruiting. Everyone should know that.”

“That’s prevalent everywhere,” he said. “There’s nothing illegal about agents talking to kids and their families in ninth and 10th grade. There’s nothing illegal about shoe companies funding AAU programs. That is what’s been encouraged and done, so it shouldn’t be a surprise you could have influence from third parties.”

Kansas officials insist they have not been contacted by the FBI, and the school is not under any sort of investigation. It

Kansas recently reached a 12-year contract extension with Adidas that will ultimately provide the school with $191 million in sponsorship money and apparel. Self suggested the affiliation is being used by rivals on the recruiting trail.

“Whenever in recruiting there is something out there that has been reported, whether it’s reliable or unreliable, total myth, whatever, there’s usually competitors that make sure that information gets to people. Unfortunately, that’s how it works,” Self said. “You can say that’s negative recruiting … but a lot of times the things that are reported are so inaccurate it puts you on the defense.”

The Jayhawks already have commitments from two top-100 prospects in 6-foot-9 forward Silvio de Sousa from Florida’s IMG Academy and 6-10 center David McCormack from Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy.

They are also in the mix for several more top-50 prospects in what could be a crucial class for them.

“I’d be lying,” Self said, “if I told you we hadn’t discussed these issues with kids. And has it hurt us to date? I don’t think it has. But it’s not signing day, either.”

Attorney makes case for Louisville to retain Pitino as coach

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rick Pitino’s attorney has told the Louisville Athletic Association that it should not fire the coach of the men’s basketball program because his client “could not have known” about activities alleged in a national federal investigation of the sport.

Steve Pence made his case Monday while the ULAA was meeting to discuss whether to fire Pitino nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged the program’s involvement in the investigation. The association board is still meeting and has not announced its decision.

Association, a separate body that oversees Louisville’s sports programs and comprised of trustees, faculty, students and administrators, on Oct. 2 authorized university interim President Greg Postel to begin the process of firing Pitino for cause after Postel placed him on unpaid administrative leave Sept. 27.

Pitino, 65, is not named in court complaints in the federal probe but Postel said in a disciplinary letter that the allegations violated his contract.

Pence has contended that Louisville rushed to judgment and made his case before the board for 45 minutes on Monday.

He said Pitino should be retained and noted, “The coach did not engage in any of this activity, he didn’t know about the activity. I think we made a very compelling case to the board, I think they listened attentively and we’ll just have to wait and see what they say.”

Pitino has coached 16 years with the program, a run that included winning the 2013 NCAA championship but was tarnished by several embarrassing off-court incidents.