The Morning Mix

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The First Four got started last night, and it gave those interested a chance to find True TV on their dials for the first time. Apparently Shaq has his own viral video show. Yeah, I’ll pass.

Oh, did I mention that Kentucky lost to Robert Morris last night. So there’s that.

Let’s hit the links.
 
 
Read of the Day:
The rise of Victor Oladipo from lightly recruited prospect to National Player of the Year candidate. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Les Carpenter’s take on Robert Morris’ monumental win over Kentucky last night in the first round of the N.I.T. Read it. (Yahoo Sports)
 
 
Top Stories:
Top-seeded Kentucky upset by Robert Morris in first round of NIT: The defending national champions lost on the road in the first round of the N.I.T. to the Colonials of Robert Morris.

Ten crazy things to expect from March Madness: We are told to expect the unexpected. Here are ten unexpected things that you should expect to see.

Picking Winners: Why I think St. Louis will upset Louisville in the Sweet 16: Louisville is one of the two best defenses in the country. But the Billikens went 2-0 against the best defense in the country. If there is team that’s going to beat Louisville in the Sweet-16, it’s Saint Louis.

Please don’t use MTSU’s loss as proof they didn’t deserve a bid: The Blue Raiders are better than their performance last night. Their loss to Saint Mary’s doesn;t validate the argument that they didn’t belong in the Big Dance.

NC A&T survives Liberty in First Four, advances to play No. 1 Louisville: No. 16 North Carolina A&T shot 51.9 percent from the floor, twelve percentage points above its season average, outlasting fellow No. 16 seed Liberty, 73-72, in the opening game of the First Four.

VIDEO: Picking your brackets with … ytterbium: Physicists use elements to determine NCAA tournament winners. I’m glad this is a video because I was never good at chemical equations.

Ten moments that defined March Madness (plus two the NCAA won’t show you): Our collection of the best plays moments and games that have helped to define March Madness.
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Butler, Xavier and Creighton will announce their intentions to join the new Big East today. (Sporting News)

– Whatever they decide to call leftovers from the Big East, their tv deal won’t be worth nearly as much as they thought. (Deadspin)

– ACC coaches were not happy that the conference received just four bids to the NCAA tournament. (CBS Sports)

– Wait, so the same ACC coaches voted for conference player of the year, and Erick Green only got two first place votes? That’s not cool. (Fayetteville Observer)

– What will the Kentucky freshman do now that their season is over? Will they stay or will they go? Following the loss to Bobby-Mo last night, they seemed to hint at returned at Lexington to take care of some unfinished business. (The Dagger)

– This is one of the bigger questions as we enter the first real day of the NCAA Tournament: Will the Big Ten’s meat grinder of a season affect teams’ tournament stamina? (USA Today)

– Ten mid-major stars that can bust your teams brackets. Mike Muscala. Remember the name. (ESPN)

– Some interesting statistical analysis on in the impact high-usage players have against the Syracuse zone. (Hoop Vision)

– This is probably the first thing Rick Reilly has written at ESPN that I’ve enjoyed reading. Even if you don’t enjoy his stylings, I suggest you read this. (ESPN)

– Statistical analysis on just how much strength of schedule effects seeding. (Cracked Sidewalks)

– Belmont will be king of the brackets…..if it was run using the academic progress rating. (Inside Higher Ed)

– Stanford wants to contend for the Pac-12 title next season. Could that indicate that Johnny Dawkins seat will start to heat up? (Oakland Tribune)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– The wife of FGCU head coach Andy Enfield is really, really, really, really hot. (The Big Lead)

– A great-read on J.J. Reddick, who kinda admits that he may have been a prick in college. (Grantland)

– The best bets to make on second round games. (Mercury News)

– ESPN is running a bracket pool that will benefit a victim of the Newtown shooting. (ESPN)

– Some quick numbers on filling out the perfect bracket, plus the best picture ever. (USA Today)
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Georgia Tech sophomore Julian Royal will transfer at the end of the semester. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

– Buffalo fired head coach Reggie Witherspoon on Friday. The former-head coach held a press conference inside his house to convey his shock by the school’s decision. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Cal State Northridge is parting ways with head coach Bobby Braswell after 17 years of service. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Duke assistant Chris Collins is strongly rumored to be considering the the vacancy at Northwestern. (Duke Hoop Blog)

– Two Wagner players, center Naofall Folahan and guard Eric Fanning, have decided to transfer out of the program. (Big Apple Buckets)
 
 
.GIF of the Day:
Archie Goodwin got clotheslined from behind on a fast break. Ouch.
source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
March Madness extends to the N.I.T.


 
 
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Preaching patience, new Pitt AD says hoops program “a complete rebuild”

AP Photo/Athens Banner-Herald, AJ Reynolds
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Things did not go particularly well for Kevin Stallings in his first year at Pitt. The program, which essentially pushed Jamie Dixon out the door for being consistently good but not often enough great, struggled, going 16-17 overall and 4-14 in the ACC, just two games out of the cellar.

On top of that, six players prematurely left the program this spring.

Not great, especially when you’ve got a new boss that didn’t hire you, as is the case for Stallings with new Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke, who came aboard in March. In her first meeting with Stallings, Lyke asked a rather blunt question.

“Do you want to be here?” according to the Beaver County Times.

Stallings answered that he did, and his new athletic director would appear to be willing to give her predecessor’s hire time to reclaim and rebuild the program.

“It’s a steep climb, if you will,” Lyke said. “It’s not something that’s going to come easy and it takes an incredible amount of work.”

Stallings’ personal reputation took a significant amount of damage this spring when he attempted to block Cameron Johnson from an intra-ACC transfer to North Carolina. NBC Sports’ Scott Phillips called him a “town-deaf clown” in his attempt to keep Johnson from being a Tar Heel, a position he later relinquished, allowing Johnson to head to Chapel Hill.

Losing Johnson certainly won’t help Stallings and the Panthers recover from the difficult first season. Pitt didn’t hit any grand-slams in recruiting but is adding four-star guard Marcus Carr in its 2017 class.

The immediate outlook doesn’t look particularly bright, but Pitt appears to be positioning itself to exhibit some patience.

“If you look at the team, it is a complete rebuild,” Lyke said. “So I do think that (Stallings) is going to need a little time to develop it.

“But, we’ve got to be headed in the right direction. There’s some things that have got to get better and noticeable improvements. I’ve already seen those things start to happen.”

 

Miller Time: Indiana coach cashes in with $24 million deal

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — New Indiana coach Archie Miller will make $24 million under his seven-year deal — and potentially even more in bonuses.

Miller accepted the job in March, but the athletic department didn’t announce details of the contract until Tuesday.

He will receive a base salary of $550,000 per year and $1 million in deferred income each season. Miller also will receive an additional $1.85 million in outside marketing and promotional income — and will get a $50,000 per year raise each year through March 2024.

Miller can earn a $250,000 bonus for winning a national championship. He can earn an additional $125,000 for a Big Ten regular-season title, reaching the Final Four and producing multiyear Academic Progress Rate scores over 950.

Utah, BYU rivalry back on after one-year hiatus

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The BYU-Utah annual rivalry series will be back on this season after taking a one-year hiatus last year.

For just the second time since 1909, the Utes and the Cougars did not play in 2016-17 after Utah head coach Larry Kyrstkowiak asked for a one-year cooling off period stemming from an intense and emotional game against BYU in 2015-16. In that game, then-freshman Nick Emery was ejected as a result of this punch that he threw:

The last time those two teams did not play was due to World War II.

The game will be played at BYU on Dec. 16th.

Utah will also play Utah State this season, the first time that they have played the Aggies since 2011.

 

California bans state-funded travel to eight states; does it affect college hoops?

Alex Wong/Getty Images
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A new California law could end up causing a headache for the sports teams for public universities in the state.

Because of recently-added laws that are perceived as discriminatory against the LGBT community, California has now banned travel to eight states: Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota join a list that already includes Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The law states that contracts that were signed before Jan. 1st, 2017, are exempted and can be fulfilled, but there’s not guarantee that will be the case in the future.

“Moving forward, the athletic department will not schedule future games in states that fail to meet the standards established by the new law,” a UCLA spokesman told the Sacramento Bee. That said, the university does not use state funding for travel sports teams as it currently stands, and the goal of the law to avoid “spending taxpayer dollars in states that discriminate,” according to California’s Attorney General.

On the college basketball side of things, the biggest question mark here is whether or not this law will prevent teams from playing in the NCAA tournament if they are sent to a site in one of those eight states. Next season alone, there are first weekend sites in Kansas, Texas, North Carolina and Tennessee, not to mention the Final Four taking place in San Antonio. The location for many of those events were determined prior to January 1st.

“We are generally not going to deny student-athletes the opportunity to compete in the postseason,” a UCLA spokesman told NBC Sports.

The next question then becomes whether or not regular season travel will be allowed. Earlier this year, Cal dropped out of talks with Kansas about a potential home-and-home series due to this law, and if regular season travel is not allowed, it would mean that Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville and Wichita State, along with Kansas, are not allowed to be visited by California public schools that need state funding to travel. A request for a clarification on the legality of college sports teams traveling to those states has been filed with the Attorney General by Fresno State, whose football team is headed to Alabama for a game this year.

Travel for recruiting is also a question that needs to be answered, but at the highest level of the sport, that is typically funded by boosters.

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.