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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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Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.