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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Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.