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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

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.