The Morning Mix

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Tickets continue to get punched. Five teams gained entrance to the madness last night, including Gonzaga of course, Davisdson of course, Iona mild surprise, James Madison sure, why not? and Western Kentucky Seriously? Again?

Let’s hit the links.

Read of the Day:
Middle Tennessee won the Sun Belt by five games. But a fluke loss in the postseason tournament reroutes them to the N.I.T. It’s one of the a cruel and inevitable fates of dominating a mid-to-low major. (Eye on College Basketball)

Top Stories:
2013 Big East Tournament Preview: It’s a nostalgic week in the Big Apple, as the Big East Tournament gets underway for the last time in its semi-original form.

Trey Burke named B1G Player of the Year, but he’ll be defined by this month: The Michigan guard edged out Indiana’s Victor Oladipo for the Big Ten Player of the Year. But his status as a National Player of the Year contender will depend on what he accomplishes from this point forward.

NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheets:
James Madison knocked off top-seeded Northeastern to earn trip to the Big Dance for the first time since 1994.

– For the second-straight year, Western Kentucky emerged out of left field to win the Sun Belt tournament.

– Casual fans will enjoy seeing Davidson back in the brackets for what seems like 15-consecutive years.

– Get to know the Iona Gaels. Welcome to the Momo Jones show.

Observations & Insight:
– I dare you to find me someone who doesn’t think Indiana is a top-5 team…What’s that? You found somebody who doesn’t think Indiana is a top-5 team? Thanks Gary Parrish. Poll Attacks. Get ’em. (Eye on College Basketball)

– There are roughly 25 teams sitting on the mythical tournament bubble. According to Jason Mcintyre, those 25 teams are fighting for only about six openings. (The Big Lead)

– In the wake of Tom Crean’s post-game tongue-lashing of former-Indiana assistant Jeff Meyer, Mike DeCourcy questions the need for the post-game handshake. (Sporting News)

– Despite getting blown out by Duke over the weekend, North Carolina isn’t going to abandon the small-ball lineup that righted the ship following a dreadful start to the season. (ESPN)

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Campbell fired head coach Robbie Lang following a 13-20 season. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Georgia Southern fired head coach Charlton Young after four years at the helm. (Eye on College Basketball)

– What are the chances Villanova wins the Big East tournament? (VU Hoops)

– Pittsburgh could really come up from behind and surprise people in the NCAA tournament, and James Robinson may could have a lot to do with it. (Times Online)

– Iowa State senior Anthony Booker has apologized for making an obscene gesture during Saturday’s win over West Virginia. (Des Moines Register)

– USC has indefinitely suspended two players involved in a street fight over the weekend in Spokane. (ESPN LA)

– Nerlens Noel was recognized by the SEC as one of the conference’s best community service volunteers. What often gets lost in the discussion of his flat-top and NBA draft stock is the fact that Noel is tremendously genuine human being. Some would even has he has “high-major” character and morals. (AllKyHoops.com)

– Speaking of Noel, the freshman phenom will undergo knee surgery today to repair the ACL he tore against Florida. (Yahoo Sports)

– Wyoming officials have apologized for the behavior of their home fans during March 6th game against Colorado State. Apparently interns in the sports marketing department distributed anti-Larry Eustachy flyers prior to the contest. (With Leather)

Odds & Ends:
– Who is the most hated college basketball player of all time? Grantland hopes to end the discussion. Personally the bracket could have been better. No Chris Jackson, no Greivis Vasquez, and no Luke Harangody. I really don’t remember hating Kirk Heinrich all that much. (Grantland)

– I know a lot of people probably don’t like these new South Florida uniforms, but those people are wrong. The new shorts are swaggy. On top of that, these uniforms are light years better than the disastrous new Adidas uniforms. (USA Today)

– Ten tips to consider when filling out your NCAA tournament brackets. (Extra Bacon)

– We’re just eight days into the postseason, and the Circle of March is already starting to take shape. (Rush the Court)

– Arizona State’s mascot got a face lift, and everybody (myself included) hates it. (AZCentral.com)

Picture of the Day:
James Madison punched their ticket to the Big Dance last night. Things got weird. (H/T @RecrdsANDradio)

source:

Video(s) of the Day:
This is a sure-fire way to become the most popular kid in high school. (Deadspin)

Video(s) of the Day:
This is real good stuff.

Dunk of the Day:
I posted this dunk here yesterday. I’m posting it here again today. That should tell you just how good this dunk it.

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.

Report: Nike, Adidas and Under Armour all pass on sponsoring Lonzo Ball

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Lonzo Ball will enter his rookie season in the NBA without a sponsorship deal from Nike, Adidas or Under Armour, only his family’s Big Baller Brand apparel.

That, according to a report from ESPN, is due to his father LaVar’s insistence that Lonzo not sign with one of the three major apparel companies unless they opted to sign a licensing deal for Big Baller Brand merchandise instead of outfitting Lonzo with their own gear.

“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”

LaVar had been representing his son in the negotiations, and is now expected to reach out to other shoe brands, including Chinese apparel companies like Li-Nang.

Big Baller Brand is a startup apparel company launched by LaVar Ball. They sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and hats, with most of their products costing at least $50.

Lonzo declared for the NBA Draft after an all-american season that saw him and the UCLA Bruins flame out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16. UCLA lost to Kentucky in that game, and Lonzo had a quiet night while his point guard counterpart, De’Aaron Fox, went off for 39 points.

Lonzo is a likely top three pick in the NBA Draft and, potentially, could still end up going No. 1. He has two younger brothers as well. LiAngelo will be a freshman with the Bruins next season while LaMelo just finished his sophomore season in high school. Both will attend UCLA.