Jay Bilas photobomb

The Morning Mix

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What a weekend.

What a season.

Savor these moments folks, because we may never see another college basketball season quite like this one. The regular season comes to an end this week, and if this season has been any indication, Championship Week is going to be bonkers. But that’s seven days away. We got a lot of ball left to be played.

Let’s hit the links.

Monday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Texas Tech @ No. 6 Kansas
7:00 p.m. – Cincinnati @ No. 10 Louisville
9:00 p.m. – Baylor @ Texas
 
 
Read of the Day:
A tremendous story from Geoff Calkins on a JuCo player in Memphis who was accused of crimes he did not commit. But thanks to a strong will and a bond with his public defender, Marshaun Newell is now the star player for Southwest Community College. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

Read of the Day:
If you have the time, I highly suggest you sit down with this New York Daily News article about Steve Konchalski, known throughout North America as “The Canadian Coach-K”. He’s like Coach-K, only with much better stories. (New York Daily News)
 
 
Top Stories:
Trey Burke leads No. 4 Michigan past No. 9 Michigan State: The Wolverines went 0-12 from beyond the arc, yet were still able to get past the Spartans on Sunday, and it was due in large part to the play of National Player of the Year candidate Trey Burke.

Virginia adds another line to baffling resume with loss at Boston College:The Cavaliers have more good wins and bad losses than any team in the country. Their loss on Sunday to Boston College is one of the many reasons why.

Miami’s loses to Duke by three at Cameron? Meh.: Ryan Kelly had a sensational performance, but shouldn’t we give Miami some credit? Duke needed a somewhat-fluky performance to beat the Hurricanes in Durham.

Ryan Kelly’s career day shows why he makes Duke a title contender:Ryan Kelly scored 36 points in his first game back from a foot injury, and he reminded all of us why Duke was and is still a legitimate national Championship contender.

Let’s keep VCU’s blow-out win over No. 20 Butler in perspective: It’s easy to overreact considering what VCU did to Butler on Saturday. But considering how Butler has made its living this season, a blowout loss to a high-octane team like VCU shouldn’t be too surprising.

Doug McDermott scores season-high 41, Creighton wins first MVC title since 2001: McDermott’s best performance of the season kept him alive in the National Player of the Year debate and helped the Bluejays to their first MVC title in over a decade.

Kentucky loses, but its NCAA tourney hopes aren’t dead yet:Kentucky could have benefited from a road win at Arkansas, but those are hard to come by. The Wildcats are still on the bubble, but that’s better than not being on it at all.

Ben Howland: Shabazz Muhammad headed to the NBA draft after season: It’s no shock at all to hear that Muhammad is going pro. It is a bit bizarre however that their head coach would make that known to the public. The Bruins are in a position to contend for the Pac-12 Regular Season Championship and are a near-lock to make the NCAA tournament. But that’s UCLA for ya.

Towson sets NCAA record, goes from 1-31 to 2nd place in CAA: The Towson Tigers have been the laughing-stock of college hoops for the past two seasons. But led by head coach Pat Skerry and Georgetown-transfer Jerrelle Benimon, the Tigers now own the most impressive turnaround in NCAA history.

Grambling State finishes regular season winless at 0-27:You just hate to see this happen. But at least Towson had provided even the slightest amount of optimism.
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– This is just awesome: The ultimate fantasy college basketball broadcasters draft. (Sports Illustrated)

– Is New Mexico worthy of a no.1-seed in the NCAA Tournament? Their resumes suggest that they are. (The Catch and Shoot Blog)

– Loyola (Md.) head coach Jim Patsos continues to have success because he does things his way. (Baltimore Sun)

– Akron’s 19-game winning streak is now over thanks to a lackluster performance against Buffalo. Louisiana Tech now holds the nation’s longest winning streak with 17 in-a-row. (Hustle Belt)

– The race for the Big-Ten title is still up for grabs. It’s quite possible that a tiebreaker will have to be used to determine a champion. (Columbus Dispatch)

– Northern Kentucky did Senior Night right. The Norse eased a 13-point deficit in the final three minutes of the game and earned a thrilling victory over Jacksonville. (AllKYhoops.com)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– If only we all could be as strong as 9-year old UCLA superfan Jeffrey Hughes, Jr. (Los Angeles Times)

– Great video footage of Pittsburgh seniors Dante Taylor and Tray Woddhall following Senior Day. This is what it’s all about. (Panther Lair)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Best.Photobomb.Ever (Twitter)

source:

 
 
Video of the Day:
This is the most incredible buzzer-beater I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of buzzer-beaters.


 
 
Dunk of the Day:
I have very little to say about this dunk because my jaw is currently dropped.

 
 
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Johnson, Paige help No. 9 Tar Heels roll past Panthers 85-64

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks against Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson scored 19 points to lead a dominating offensive performance that helped No. 9 North Carolina beat Pittsburgh 85-64 on Sunday.

Marcus Paige added 15 points for the Tar Heels (21-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 59 percent to stay atop the league ahead of the next renewal of their fierce rivalry with Duke.

UNC had plenty of balance, shared the ball and got out in transition in arguably their best performance in weeks, using a 13-0 second-half burst to blow the game open. UNC finished with 26 assists on 32 baskets, 24 points off turnovers and scored 16 fast-break points after managing a combined five in the past two games.

Michael Young and James Robinson each scored 15 points to lead Pitt (17-7, 6-6). But the Panthers shot 37 percent and committed 19 turnovers, and a strong effort on the glass did little to offset their troubles.

The Tar Heels were playing their first home game in two weeks after a difficult three-game road trip that started with losses at Louisville and Notre Dame. Then came Tuesday’s game at Boston College, where the Tar Heels struggled against a winless league team then had a scare when Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams briefly collapsed in a second-half huddle after an attack of vertigo and had to leave the sideline for the rest of the game.

Williams was back in the office on Wednesday’s off day, returned to practice Thursday and told reporters Friday he was fine and even cracked jokes about a two-decade history with vertigo dating to his Kansas years.

Getting back home certainly helped everyone feel better. After wrestling with shooting struggles for much of the past month, UNC’s offense kicked back into an efficient and balanced gear, while Paige – the player the Tar Heels are practically begging to jolt free from a prolonged shooting slump – looked more like his old self against the Panthers.

That included one second-half play in which he caught a crosscourt pass from Theo Pinson in transition and made sure to step back behind the arc before burying a 3-pointer.

The Panthers had lost three of four since a 5-2 league start coming in, including 65-63 on a late tip-in at No. 12 Miami on Tuesday. And Pitt again had trouble getting their offense going, failing to crack 70 points for the third straight game.

TIP-INS

Pittsburgh: Second-leading scorer Jamel Artis scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting. … Pitt finished with a 41-29 rebounding advantage. … Pitt made 9 of 21 3-point attempts.

UNC: Justin Jackson scored 14 points. … UNC made 8 of 15 shots from 3-point range and 13 of 15 free throws. … Jackson and Pinson had six assists each. … UNC managed just one offensive rebound.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday.

UNC hosts Duke on Wednesday.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) shoots over Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
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Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.