The Morning Mix

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Monday was a light night of college hoops. Brittney Griner dropped 50 points and threw down a dunk during her final home game in Waco. And then there’s the picture you see to your right. Jay Bilas is becoming the Chris Bosh of college basketball. That’s his second photobomb in the last three games. I’m not sure what game he’s doing next, but you can almost guarantee he’s going to photobomb somebody.

Let’s hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 15 Marquette @ Rutgers
7:00 p.m. – St. John’s @ No. 24 Notre Dame
7:00 p.m. – Arkansas @ Missouri
9:00 p.m. – No. 14 Ohio State @ No. 2 Indiana
9:00 p.m. – No. 25 Memphis @ UTEP
10:00 p.m. – Boise State @ UNLV
 
 
Top Stories:
Middle Tennessee State could be worthy of an at-large bid: The top team in the Sun Belt is one of the top mid-major teams in the country. But their weak strength of schedule and lack victories over RPI top-100 teams may come back to haunt them if they don’t win their conference tournament, which was the case a season ago.

Louisville gets back to the basics, pulls away from Cincinnati: The Cardinals relied on their turnover-heavy defense, forcing 21 against the Bearcats and earned a 67-51 victory.

Baylor’s NCAA Tournament hopes take serious blow in loss at Texas: Baylor has one of the most talent-rich rosters in the country but has failed to put it all together on the court. Their loss to Texas last night just about put their tournament hopes on ice.

Latest NCAA tourney projections: Duke’s a 1, but who else?CBT’s resident bracketologist Dave Ommen returns to discuss his latest tournament projections.

Elijah Johnson becoming the point guard Bill Self wanted: I’ve taking some strong criticism from head coach Bill Self, Kansas point guard Elijah Johnson is rounding into form as the leader of the Jayhawks.

Hoops Housekeeping:
– New Mexico head coach Steve Alford has indefinitely suspended guard Demetrius Walker for a violation of unspecified team rules. The Lobos are one of the handful of teams vying for a no.1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. (Albuquerque Journal)

– UMBC coach Aki Thomas had his interim tag dropped yesterday and was appointed as the permanent head coach of the Retrievers. (Eye on College Basketball)

– It still looks like C.J. McCollum might not be ready to return in time for the Patriot League Tournament. (Fox Sports)

– Highly touted class of 2014 wing Justin Jackson verbally committed to North Carolina yesterday. (Keeping it Heel)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– According to reports, the Catholic-7 will retain the Big East name and Madison Square Garden. (USA Today)

– The Georgetown Hoyas are among the handful of teams vying for a no. 1-seed. Ben Standig previews Georgetown’s tournament scenarios. (CSN Washington)

– Losing games to teams you should beat doesn’t help, but neither does a weak schedule. Both of these issues hurt Arizona State’s chances to make the NCAA Tournament. (AZCentral.com)

– Former-Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine thinks this team lacks mental toughness. Scoop was never one to mince words. (Watertown Daily Times)

– Nebraska isn’t a team with postseason aspirations, but Brandon Ubell has a bright future. (Lincoln Journal Star)

– Interesting notes from Kansas’ Senior Night. Bell Self asked the fans to thank Ben McLemore. Chants of “One more year” began. Self responded: “Don’t hold your breath on that.”. (KUSports.com)

– Speaking of Senior Night, here’s a nice story on SDSU senior Jeremy Castleberry, who honed his craft being a personal rebounder for former-Aztec Kawhi Leonard. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– Sports Illustrated is rolling out a new college hoops blog, “One and One”. Andy Glockner, a friend of the program, is the man in charge. Update your bookmarks and RSS feeds. (One and One)

– An outstanding Q&A session with ESPN Analyst and banter extraordinaire, Fran Fraschilla. (Albany Times Union)

– I’ll be honest. I watch more women’s college basketball than I’d like to admit. But I’ve never seen a women’s player as dominant as Brittney Griner. She dropped 50 points on K-State last night and threw down a dunk. (The Dagger)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Jay Bilas’ second photobomb in three days. This will be a meme before you know it. (H/T @Damon_Simpson)

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
Memphis coach often reminds me of a young child. This video confirms it.


 
 
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Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: