The Morning Mix

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Welcome to the postseason, folks. The 2012-2013 regular season is in the books, but it went out with a bang. It’s fitting that the final weekend of regular season hoops was littered with buzzer-beaters, blowouts, upsets and fireworks.

Let’s hit the links.

Top Stories:
Jim Boeheim’s postgame comments fuel retirement speculation: Following Georgetown’;s 61-39 destruction of Syracuse oN Saturday, Jim Boeheim provided some interesting quotes added more speculation to the rumors that the coaching icon may be retiring at the end of the season.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky get crucial victory over No. 11 Florida: Kentucky was running out of chances to position themselves on the right side of the bubble. But the Wildcats got a huge win over No. Florida on Saturday. The ‘Cats looked inspired and hungry, like a team desperate to make the NCAA tournament.

Temple in good NCAA tournament position after win over No. 21 VCU: The Owls played spoiler against VCU, thwarting the “Havoc” defense and squashing the Rams’ regular season A-10 title hopes. But in the process, the Owls may have cemented an at-large bid.

Cody Zeller’s reminder: Victor Oladipo isn’t Indiana’s only all-american: Indiana erased a late deficit to stun Michigan at home on Sunday in the Big Ten season finale. “The Big Handsome” led the way for the Hoosiers, scoring a game-high 25 points which included the game-winner with 13 seconds remaining.

Did Phil Pressey shoot Tennessee into the NCAA tournament? Phil Pressey is one of the nation’s elite point guards But shooting is not his forte. Despite this, Pressey is known for thinking he is a shooting guard. He did this on Saturday, and it may have helped an SEC foe work their way on to the right side of the bubble.

2013 Middle Tennessee = 2012 Drexel? Blue Raiders upset in Sun Belt semis: Middle Tennessee won the regular season Sun Belt title by a five-game margin, but fell to Florida International in the conference tournament semis. The Blue Raiders are a fringe bubble team who probably should not have let it go to “the judge’s decision”.

VIDEO: Wisconsin escapes Penn State with win on Traevon Jackson’s buzzer beater: Penn State nearly pulled off another shocker at home, but thanks to a buzzer-beater from Traevon Jackson (The son of former 2x B1G PoY Jim Jackson), Wisconsin stole a road victory in Happy Valley. Now THAT is how you pose.

VIDEO: Trevor Releford’s halfcourt buzzer-beater saves Alabama: The Crimson tide blew a 17-point first half lead at home to Georgia on Saturday. But Trevor Releford bailed his team out with a beautiful half-court buzzer-beater.

VIDEO: Kerron Johnson’s game-winner earns Belmont an autobid: Kerron Johnson, hit his second huge shot of the game with 1.2 seconds left to give Belmont, the Ohio Valley’s regular season champion, the conference’s automatic bid in their inaugural season as a member.

VIDEO: Todd Fletcher, Air Force down No. 12 New Mexico at buzzer: The Lobos are one of the top defensive teams in the countyr, yet blew a four-point in the final 16-seconds of the game, capped off by this 3-pointer from AFA’s Todd Fletcher.

VIDEO: Buzzer-beating Raiders have the Wright stuff in win over Detroit: Wright State stunned the reigning Horizon League Tournament Champions, thanks to a buzzer-beater from Miles Dixon.

VIDEO: Ryan Broekhoff sends Valpo to the Horizon title game at the buzzer: Another Horizon League semifinal, another buzzer-beater.
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– The best finish of the weekend came north of the border. Holland College went all “Reggie Miller winning time”. Make sure you watch this. You won’t be disappointed. (Eh Game)

– Both Manhattan and LIU-Brooklyn have a NCAA Tournament berth well within their sights, something that was not even on the radar two months ago. (College Hoops Digest)

– Missouri Valley Conference commissioner Doug Elgin was not happy that CBS cut away from the final minutes of the MVC championship game in order to start the Michigan-Indiana game. (Fox Sports)

– Minnesota is still alive for a NCAA tournament birth and yet people are already starting to pick out potential replacements for Tubby Smith. (From The Barn)

– The Atlantic-10 is gearing up for their first postseason tournament held at the Barclays Center. (New York Daily News)

– A brawl broke out in downtown Spokane on Saturday night, and witnesses say the assailiants were members of the USC basketball team. (Spokesman-Review)

– Shooting contest gaff costs student $50,000. (The Dagger)

– Brad Waldow tried to hand a recently displaced tooth to his head coach Randy Bennett. That’s nasty. (College Basketball Talk)
 
 
Video of the Day:
– Tom Crean to former-IU assistant (and current Michigan assistant) Jeff Mayer: “YOU WRECKED OUR PROGRAM”. (Eye on College Basketball)

Dunk of the Day:
Dez Wells is a freak. He pins a ball against the backboard at one end, and slams home a Dunk of the Year candidate at the other end. Shut it down. Game over.


 
 
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4-star center commits to Purdue

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With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

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Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.