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

No. 2 Michigan State overcomes 27-point deficit to stun Northwestern

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Michigan State overcame a 27-point deficit on Saturday afternoon to beat Northwestern, 65-60, for a memorable Big Ten road win. It’s the biggest comeback win in Big Ten history while also matching the largest college basketball comeback of the last decade.

Trailing by 22 points at halftime and by 18 points with 14 minutes left, the comeback for the Spartans was slow and methodical at first, as Michigan State’s defense slowly suffocated the Wildcat offense.

And when the jumpers started falling with a Josh Langford (eight points) three with a little over 13 minutes left, the Spartans made their big push.

Sophomore point guard Cassius Winston was a major catalyst in the comeback for Michigan State as he buried multiple top-of-the-key threes and pull-up jumpers to help give the Spartans a new-found confidence. Winston finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as he came through in a major way in the second half. With star Miles Bridges (eight points) battling foul trouble in the second half, Winston and other Michigan State role players stepped up in a big way. Big man Nick Ward grinded to 15 points and a lot of key stops on the defensive end. Matt McQuaid knocked down some big shots while taking a charge and playing well on both ends. Jaren Jackson had the go-ahead three-point play to finally give the Spartans their first lead.

This was a team comeback in which Michigan State (26-3, 14-2) used the sum of its parts to slowly dismantle Northwestern. It was one of the more impressive comebacks in recent memory. Doing commentary for Fox, Steve Lavin said this was one of the biggest one-half swings in his 30 years of being around Division I basketball.

While beating Northwestern isn’t some sort of monumental achievement this season, Michigan State didn’t have a huge comeback win this season. The biggest deficit that the Spartans had overcome to win this season was only 13 points. Now we know that Michigan State is capable of making a comeback from a very large deficit as they showed they’re capable of coming through with the offensive firepower. And Bridges, the team’s leading scorer, only had two field goals.

This is the Michigan State we’ve wanted to consistently see this season. Michigan State getting stops is nothing new. The Spartans held Northwestern scoreless for over 11 minutes at one point in the second half as the Wildcats were brutal shooting the ball in the first half. But if Michigan State’s offense gets rolling like that because of balanced inside/outside contributions from role players? That’s the Spartans everyone keeps hoping will show up in March.

No. 23 Oklahoma loses fifth-straight, Trae Young at risk of missing NCAA tournament?

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Trae Young has hit the freshman wall, and there are few signs that he is ready to break through to the other side.

Let’s start with the good news, I guess: In today’s 77-66 home loss to a Texas team that entered the day tied for eighth in the Big 12 standings, Young finally snapped his streak of 20 missed three-pointers. After starting off Saturday 0-for-4 after missing all nine of his threes at Texas Texas and his last seven threes at Iowa State, Young hit three of his last six triples.

He also made all nine of his free throws, extending that streak to nearly 30 consecutive makes, while scoring 26 points and committing fewer than four turnovers in a game for the first time since December 8th.

Those are all good things!

The problem, however, is that they came in Oklahoma’s fifth straight loss, their sixth loss in the last seven games and their eighth loss in their last ten games. The Sooners have been dreadful for more than a month, and it’s not going to get any easier; they play at Kansas on Monday.

The question “why?” is pretty simple, too. Young is struggling and the rest of the pieces on the roster just have not been good enough to be able to pick up the slack. Brady Manek is a spot-up shooter that has struggling shooting the ball. Kameron McGusty went from being a player that looked like a potential all-Big 12 guy last season to Just A Guy this season. Christian James hasn’t been bad, and Jamuni McNeace and Khadeem Lattin hold their own in the paint, but by and large Young’s supporting cast has not been providing enough support while Young has been in this slump.

The question of whether or not Oklahoma can turn this around is not quite so simple unless you know the reason for Young’s struggles. Has he simply found himself in a place where the grind of a full season of college basketball and two months of Big 12 play — a league where every team has a good-to-great player at the point — has worn him down physically and mentally, or has the blueprint for how to beat the Sooners become too prevalent?

Or is it all of the above?

If Young is gassed, that’s an issue that, in theory, can be solved.

If the Sooners, are a flawed roster that cannot function or win games when opponents sell out to stop their superstar freshman, that isn’t as easy to deal with. Rest can solve the former. You’re not solving the latter, you’re not bring more talent into the program, while Young is still on campus.

At 16-10 overall and 6-8 in the Big 12, Oklahoma still looks like a pretty safe bet to reach the NCAA tournament. For starters, they were listed as a No. 4 seed just six days ago when the Selection Committee unveiled their first iteration of the top 16 seeds. They also have six Quadrant 1 wins and no bad losses to their name. Their won-loss record is a casualty of the Big 12 meat-grinder.

But that doesn’t mean they are safe. If they finish up the Big 12 season going 1-3 — which is feasible given how they’ve played the last month and their remaining opponents: at Kansas, Kansas State, at Baylor, Oklahoma State — then they’ll be 7-11 in the league. No one in more than 25 years has reached the NCAA tournament with a league record four games under .500.

The Sooners aren’t doomed yet.

But it is time for them to figure their issues out.

PHOTOS: Miami, Syracuse wear shirts honoring Florida shooting victims

Photo via Mike Waters, Syracuse.com
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Syracuse is playing in Miami on Saturday, the first game that the Hurricanes have played at home since the shooting at Parkland, Florida’s, Stoneman Douglas High School.

Both teams wore warmup shirts honoring the victims of the shooting prior to the game:

Parkland and Coral Gables are about 50 miles apart, but both towns are suburbs with the same Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area.

St. John’s guard Lovett to leave school, turn pro

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Marcus Lovett announced on Saturday morning that he will be leaving St. John’s to pursue a professional career.

This decision doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Lovett, who averaged 14.9 points through the first seven games of the season, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury despite reports that he was healthy enough to play.

According to the New York Post, Lovett was not even enrolled in school for the spring semester.

Lovett spent three seasons in New York with the Johnnies and played less than a year and a half.

Yale’s Makai Mason expected to play vs. Harvard

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For the first time since the 2016 NCAA tournament, Yale basketball fans are going to have a chance to see Makai Mason play for the Bulldogs.

A star point guard that is already committed to play for Baylor as a grad transfer in 2018-19, Mason missed all of the 2016-17 season and the 2017-18 season to date with a series of foot injuries.

As a sophomore, Mason averaged 16.0 points and 3.8 assists for the Bulldogs as they won the Ivy League and knocked off Baylor in the first round of the NCAA tournament as a No. 12 seed. He had 31 points in that win.

The Elis are currently 5-4 in the Ivy League after beating Dartmouth on Friday night. With Mason back in the fold, they seem like a safe bet to get to the Ivy League tournament and a contender to win it all.

The way that Ivy League rules are written, players are not allowed to redshirt, even if they are injured for the season. Since Mason was in classes as a junior, during the season that he missed, this year is the last year that he would be allowed to play for an Ivy League program.