The Morning Mix

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Today is the day.

There are 365 days in a year. Today is No. 1 of 365.

Carpe Diem.

Read of the Day:
According to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, Syracuse received a notice of preliminary inquiry from the NCAA. This could be huge. Apparently a probe of the program has been going on for years. (CBS Sports)

Observations & Insight:
– The new Big East became official yesterday. (New Jersey Star-Ledger)

– This is the second year in a row that Syracuse will enter the NCAA tournament under a significant cloud of controversy. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– A good-read on Cinderella teams and “Survive and Advance” (Fayetteville Observer)

– Drew Cannon has a very unique position with the Butler Bulldogs. The graduate student’s sole responsibility is to track and analyze the Bulldogs’ advanced statistics. It’s fascinating stuff, and Butler is one of the only programs in the country that has a guy like Cannon. That’s because head coach Brad Stevens is a big believer in advanced statistics. Not all coaches are. But then again, not all coaches are Brad Stevens, either. (Sports Illustrated)

– Luke Winn’s Power Rankings for tournament teams ranked No.11-seed and up. (Sports Illustrated)

– Butler is joining the Big East. Think about that for a second. Think back to a decade ago. What did you know about Butler in 2003? Probably not very much. But thanks to kid-genius Brad Stevens, the Butler Bulldogs are joining one of the most prestigious athletic conferences in the country. I’m not sure there is another coach out there that has done as much for his university in the first five years as Stevens has done for Butler. (ESPN)

– UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett is still undecided about his NBA draft future. The Runnin’ Rebels performance in the NCAA tournament should have an impact on his decision. (Mercury News)

– Meet Sim Bhullar. He’s the center for New Mexico State. He’;s 7-foot-5 and weighs 340 pounds. He’s the largest player in D-I hoops, and he’s just a freshman. Oh, and he’s really good too. (The Dagger)

Odds & Ends:
– The 12 biggest reason why everybody hates Duke. Number two is brilliant. (USA Today)

– Yeah, this type of rivalry isn’t exactly something you could plan in advance. (WISH-TV8)

– The bland, monotonous tournament courts need a face lift. A drastic face lift. Matt Norlander has some ideas for change. (Eye on College Basketball)

– A Syracuse fan wants Seth Davis fired because he picked Montana to eliminate the orange. Oh that’s rich. (Syracuse Post-Standard)

– Wichita State forward Carl Hall was known for his trademark dreadlocks. He was supposed to be next in a growing line of dreadlock’d bangers (Kenneth Faried and Jae Crowder his predecessors). But alas, it was not meant to be, as the senior decided to shave his head in advance of the Shockers second round match-up against Pittsburgh. (Wichita Eagle)

– This is probably the best map of NCAA fandom we will ever see, and it’s from Facebook. (Deadspin)

– A Syracuse violation dartboard. Awesome. (The UConn Blog)

– This bares repeating: the wife of FGCU head coach Andy Enfield is really, really, really, really hot. Like, supermodel-hot. (Busted Coverage)

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Julius Randle verbally committed to Kentucky yesterday. If Poythress, Goodwin and Cauley-Stein come back for sophomore seasons, Kentucky is going to be LOADED. (SNY.tv)

– A controversial recruit rule change will be reviewed in May before a final decision is made. (ESPN)

– Steve Alford agreed to a new 10-year contract to remain head coach at New Mexico. (Albuquerque Journal)

– The Mountain West Conference has agreed in principle to a seven-year TV rights deal with ESPN. (ESPN)

– Chattanooga has fired head coach John Schulman after nine years of service. (Eye on College Basketball)

Video of the Day:
This is hysterical. Absolutely hysterical.

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Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?