Syracuse v Georgetown

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. (

– 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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Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.