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The Morning Mix

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College Basketball Talk has Championship Week on lockdown. @RobDauster and @RaphielleJ are holding it down from their “home offices”, (See: couches), and @TroyMachir (Me) and @DanielJMartin_ will be in New York City covering the A-10 and Big East tournaments respectively. @CBTonNBC will have all the bases covered.

Let’s hit the links.
 
 
Read of the Day:
SB Nation has been rolling out a few long form essays recently, and their latest one profiles the death of Earl Badu, who famously scored the final points at Maryland’s Cole Field House. This is great stuff. Read it. (SB Nation)

Top Stories:
Late Night Snacks: Get caught up to speed with all the major happenings from Thursday. There were a lot of happenings.

Charlotte makes eight free throws in final 4.7 seconds, stuns Richmond in A-10 tourney: In arguably one of the most bizarre finishes to a college basketball game in recent memory, Charlotte when from being down three to up five in just under two seconds. In the game’s final 4.7 second, three technical fouls were given and 11 foul shots were taken by the same player.

WAC co-champions Louisiana Tech, Denver eliminated in quarterfinals: Upsets in mid-major conference tournaments have been all the “rage” this week and the top two teams in the WAC followed suit on Thursday.

Utah beats California in overtime, advances to Pac-12 semifinals: The Cal bears hurt their NCAA tournament seeding with a puzzling loss Utah. The Utes look like they are tending in the right direction under Larry Krystkowiak.

Fitting end to a disappointing season for the Baylor Bears:Thursday night was a perfect example of the frustrating conundrum that is this Baylor basketball team.

Russ Smith scores 28 to beat Villanova playing with a heavy heart: The Brooklyn-native mourned the passing of his high school coach on honoring him on Thursday with a 28-point performance against Villanova.

Thurday’s Bubble Winners: Iowa, Iowa State, Maryland and Tennessee helped their NCAA tournament hopes with a victory on Thursday.

Thursday’s Bubble Losers: Minnesota, Arizona State, and Villanova headline a deep pool of teams that did not help themselves to a win on Thursday.

VIDEO: Gus Johnson bellows as Brandon Paul beats Minnesota. Gophers dancing?: Illinois beat Minnesota on a Brandon paul buzzer-beater, and Gus Johnson was there to call the action.

Iowa State’s comeback win locks them into the NCAA tournament: The Cyclones all but locked up an at-large bid with their Big XII tournament win over Oklahoma on Thursday.

Syracuse appears to have cured their offensive woes: For the second straight day, the Orange got into a rhythm offensively, opening up a 40-27 lead at the half and hanging on down the stretch to defeat Pittsburgh 62-59.

This crop of 16-seeds won’t be the one that beats a 1-seed: With no real dominant team this season, the thought was that this could finally be the year that a No. 16-seed defeats a No. 1-seed. But if you look at the potential No. 16-seeds, you’ll realize that this just isn’t going to happen.

Chaos rules in Norfolk as top four seeds bounced from MEAC tournament: All four top-seeds fell in the quarterfinals of the MEAC tournament in Norfolk, VA. We examine the chaos.
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– A strong multifaceted article covering realignment and the race for revenue among collegiate athletics. (Greensboro News-Record)

– Utah State’s season was filled with heartbreak and horrible luck. It came to a close on Thursday as the Aggies fell in the WAC quarterfinals. (Salt Lake Tribune)

– Will Leitch provides his thoughts on Oregon State head coach Craig Robinson and the idea of a trendy Bucknell upset pick in the NCAA tournament. (Sports on Earth)

– Gus Johnson misses college basketball, and you know what? College basketball misses Gus. (USA Today)
 
 
Coaching Carousel:
– Mike Gillian has spent the last decade at Longwood and saw the Lancers make the switch to Division I. He resigned yesterday, amassing an overall record of 93-214 (Eye on College Basketball)

– Billy Taylor will not return as head coach to Ball State next season. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Marist head coach Chuck Martin has been “relieved of his duties” following a 10-win season. (Sporting News)

– Mark Phillips has been dismissed as head coach of the Drake Bulldogs. (GoDrakeBulldogs.com)

– Loyola (Md.) head coach Jimmy Patsos has been linked to the vacancy at Siena, but the colorful Greyhounds coach said that he has not been contacted by the university. (Baltimore Sun)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Former-President Bill Clinton visited the Louisville locker room following the Cardinals’ victory over Villanova. I’m speechless. (College Basketball Talk)

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Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.

Washington State coach begins game on opponent’s bench

Ernie Kent
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In September, during the Coaches vs. Cancer Gala in Spokane, Washington, there was a live auction, which included the chance to be Idaho’s honorary coach for a regular season during the 2016-17 season.

Washington State head coach Ernie Kent’s $2,000 bid more than tripled the next highest bid, according to the Spokesman Review.

On Wednesday night, during Washington State’s game against the Vandals, Kent sat next to his counterpart on the Idaho bench.

Kent returned to his side of the court following the game’s first possession.

Behind 16 points from Ike Iiroegbu, the Cougars defeated the Vandals, 61-48.

 

Given Washington’s struggles, just how hot is Lorenzo Romar’s seat?

Lorenzo Romar
AP Photo/Stephen Brashear
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We tried to warn you what was coming on Wednesday night.

We tried to tell you just how bad things were for Washington right now, that, according to a coach that had faced the Huskies this season, “they were so ******* bad defensively” that “they looked like they hadn’t been coached.”

That’s not a good look for anyone, let alone a head coach that has missed the NCAA tournament the last five seasons despite having five first round picks come through his program during that time.

Which is why you shouldn’t have been surprised that the Huskies were gutted by No. 8 Gonzaga, losing 98-71 in a game that was never competitive at any point. And, given that Markelle Fultz, the potential No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, is on the Washington roster, it’s the nightmare scenario.

So.

We need to start talking about the elephant in the room, because there’s a lot to unpack here:

Just how hot is Lorenzo Romar’s seat?

RELATED: What has gone wrong with Washington this season?

The simple answer? Scalding. Romar is one of just three Power 5 head coaches that have missed the NCAA tournament for five straight seasons without having to find new employment. You don’t get six tournament-less years and survive, not at this level.

But there’s more to the conversation that simply relaying the number of first round picks he’s failed to get to the Big Dance.

Four of those five first round picks played in two different seasons, meaning that in the other three seasons, Washington was led by C.J. Wilcox, the No. 28 pick in 2014, and Nigel Williams-Goss. In 2011-12, Washington had Terrence Ross, then a sophomore, and freshman Tony Wroten on the roster. They started slowly out of the gate, going 7-6 in non-conference play, before winning the Pac-12 regular season title outright. They missed out on the NCAA tournament in large part due to the fact that the conference as a whole went 1-29 against the RPI top 50; only two Pac-12 teams earned bids that season. Ross and Wroten both left after the season.

The other year that Washington had two first round picks was in 2015-16, which both Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray shocked everyone by becoming one-and-done talents. Both were drafted almost entirely on potential; Chriss was clueless defensively, fouling out of 15 of the 34 games he played, while Murray’s jumper left him a long way away from impacting an NBA game. The conversation about this Washington team would be totally different right now if Fultz had those two on the floor with him.

Part of the reason those two were able to leave early was because of Romar’s coaching style – he lets his most talented players play regardless of whether or not they’re making mistakes – and in part because the 2016 draft was bad.

Romar is, in part, a victim of circumstance, even if he dug himself into this whole in the first place.

RELATED: For Michael Porter Jr., Washington was all about family first

Washington is still paying Romar a relatively small amount. After the 2010 season, when he led the Huskies to his third Sweet 16, Romar got a 10-year contract extension worth $1.7 million annually. It runs three more years after this season and comes with a $3.2 million buyout, which isn’t massive but is expensive for an athletic department that projected to operate at a $15 million deficit in 2016. Then you have to consider what it would cost to hire an upgrade on Romar.

For comparison’s sake, Tubby Smith made $1.8 million in 2015-16 at Texas Tech and got a raise to more than $3 million-a-year for the next five years at Memphis despite the fact that he wasn’t the guy the school initially targeted. But Brad Underwood will make $1.2 million a year for five years at Oklahoma State, which makes him the lowest-paid coach in the conference.

If new Washington AD Jennifer Cohen wants to hire a new coach, she’d certainly be able to afford a replacement that we be, at the least, a respectable name, but there’s no guarantee that a replacement is going to have any kind of success there. Romar is far and away the most successful coach Washington has ever had. He’s been to six NCAA tournament and three Sweet 16s in his 15 seasons. The Huskies reached the Final Four in 1953, and in the nearly 50 years between that day and the day that Romar was hired, Washington reached just six NCAA tournaments and two Sweet 16s.

Romar is not having the same level of success that he had when guys like Brandon Roy and Isaiah Thomas were on his roster, but Washington is still somewhat relevant due to the pros that are coming through Seattle. There’s no guarantee that any replacement will make Washington more likely to get to the NCAA tournament, but at least Husky fans get Markelle Fultz this season and Michael Porter Jr., a top five prospect and the son of current U-Dub assistant coach Michael Porter Sr., next season.

That’s certainly more enjoyable than rooting for, say, Washington State.

And it’s certainly a factor that Cohen has to consider. Porter clearly picked Washington because Romar, his godfather, is part of the family.

“As we continue to look where we’re going and where we think we can go and what our plan is, then I’ll have more information about it,” Cohen said at her introductory press conference. “But absolutely, I’m 100 percent behind him right now.”

And if Washington can’t get back to the Big Dance?

“We haven’t gotten to that point yet,” she said. “So we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

CBT Podcast: ESPN’s Dana O’Neil discusses her book about Villanova

Villanova head coach Jay Wright celebrates as he cuts down the net after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game against North Carolina, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. Villanova won 77-74. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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On today’s podcast, I was joined by ESPN’s Dana O’Neil, one of my personal favorite writers who has penned a book chronicling how Jay Wright was able to build the Villanova program into a national title winner.

Dana spent seven years as a beat-writer for the Wildcats before making the move to ESPN, and she has some great stories about how the book came together and, frankly, how that Villanova team came together.

It’s a little “Inside Baseball”, but it was a fun conversation about a book that you know is going to be really good.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

VIDEO: World War II Veteran play anthem on harmonica before Pearl Harbor Invitational

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-8-41-20-am
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Peter DuPre’, a veteran of World War II, opened last night’s Pearl Harbor Invitational between Seton Hall and California with a moving rendition of the National Anthem, which he played on his harmonica.