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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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Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson

 

Hayes returning to Wisconsin for senior season

Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes celebrates with fans after an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 67-59. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Wisconsin has cemented itself as one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten for the 2016-17 season.

Forward Nigel Hayes, the Badgers’ leading scorer and assist man, is withdrawing his name from NBA Draft consideration to return to Madison for his senior season, he told the Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday evening.

Hayes declared for the draft last month, but did not hire an agent, taking advantage of new NCAA legislation that allowed him to attend the NBA Draft combine and workout for pro franchises. He was largely regarded as a fringe first-round prospect by draft observers.

His decision is a major boon for Greg Gard, who may have the Big Ten’s best team in his first full season at the helm after taking over for Bo Ryan in the middle of last season. Wisconsin had a major turnaround under Gard, which ultimately resulted in him moving from interim to full time. The Badgers were 7-5 when Ryan stepped down, but recovered by going 13-4 to end the season and make the Sweet 16. 

Now, the entirety of that team, headlined by Hayes, is returning for another year and almost assuredly will be a top-15 (or better) preseason pick. Michigan State will welcome in a dynamite recruiting class that features five-stars Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston, and Indiana should remain strong, but the Badgers, with some players having the experience of  playing in two Final Fours, could very well have the best roster on paper with its blend of talent and experience. Whichever team is pegged as the favorite, the top of the Big Ten is shaping up to be a fantastic race.