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The Morning Mix

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We haven’t had a day like this in some time. No games yesterday, no games today, no games tomorrow. From now until Thursday (Unless something absolutely bonkers happens in the N.I.T) it’s going to be nothing but chatter: News, opinion, insight, analysis, etc. It’s going to be “Media Day” from now til Thursday.

Oh, and there will be plenty of #DunkCity references today. The week belongs to Florida Gulf Coast.

Let’s hit the links.
Read of the Day:
Phil Mushnick trolls on the NCAA tournament and Florida Gulf Coast. You’ll enjoy hating it. Read this. (New York Post)

Read of the Day:
– Tim Layden unearthed some interesting information regarding the resume of FGCU head coach Andy Enfield. Deadspin thinks this could be end of the eagles 15 minutes of fame. (Sports Illustrated)
Top Stories:
Is Florida Gulf Coast the most surprising Cinderella of all time? The NCAA tournament is home to some of the greatest Cinderella stories in sports history. But where do the FGCU Eagles stack up? Answer: right near the top.

2013 NCAA Tournament in Pictures: Best of the First Weekend: There were lots of great moments this weekend. We combed through the archives and found the best pictures from the second and third round.

First Weekend Superlatives: The best of the weekend in best-of format. It’s the best.

Breaking Down the Sweet 16: Key matchups in each game: Now that the field has been whittled down to just 16 teams, we breakdown the individual match-ups that could be key in the Sweet Sixteen.

Sweet 16 Power Rankings: How do the title contenders stack up?: With the first weekend out-of-the-way, we re-ranked the 16 teams remaining in terms of national championship potential. Will FGCU surprise us for the second straight week?

This Sweet 16 (mostly) madder than any before: Some solid stats and info regarding the first weekend, in which a No. 15-seed made it to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in hoops history.

NCAA tournament’s first week gets highest ratings in 23 years: There we’re no buzzer-beaters per se, but the first weekend still provided drama, suspense and a bit of the unexpected.
Observations & Insight:
– George Dohrmann tries to pinpoint the moment in which Ben Howland’s tenure at UCLA started to unravel. (Sports Illustrated)

– Well here’s a thought: What about Andy Enfield as the next head coach of UCLA. You know, it’s just crazy enough to work. (Los Angeles Times)

– Why aren’t more people in outrage over the firings of Tubby Smith and Ben Howland. Pat Forde explains. (Yahoo Sports)

– Gregg Doyel has some sage advice for Marshall Henderson. This is good stuff. (CBS Sports)

– Another solid piece of writing on the Ole Miss lightning rod. The slide show at the end is worth the click. (USA Today)

– Want to know more about upstart Florida Gulf Coast? Deadspin provides a comprehensive viewers guide to FGCU. (Deadspin)

– Florida Gulf Coast is taking the nation by storm, but the tournament’s biggest surprise just might be the No. 13-seed La Salle Explorers. (New York Times)

– How does Georgetown solve their string of NCAA tournament early exits? (Washington Post)

– the Big Sky conference re-seeds teams after the first round of their conference tournament. What the NCAA tournament was re-seeded after the first weekend? This is what it might look like. (ESPN)

– Dana O’Neil details all the ways in which the Sweet 16 field has something for everyone. (ESPN)

– Mike Lupica chimes in on the major storylines heading in to the Sweet 16. I’m not a big Lupica fan, but this is good stuff. (New York Daily News)

– It’s no surprise to see the NCAA tournament unravel in this manner, not after the regular season we all saw. (Hoopville)

– 16 interesting stats from March Madness’ first weekend. (Ahtlon Sports)

– A lot of good quotes here on the one-and-done rule from title-winning coaches. (USA Today)
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Georgia State and Appalachian State are leaving the Southern Conference in order to join the Sun Belt. (Mid-Major Madness)

– Idaho and New Mexico State are likely to follow the SoCon schools to the Sun Belt by the end of the week. (CBS Sports)

– George Mason will be forced to pay a $1-million exit fee to the CAA for leaving in order to join the Atlantic 10. (ESPN)

– Siena was once thought to be a potential addition to the Catholic-7 or Atlantic 10, but according to the school president, no contact has been made. (Albany Times-Union)

– Tubby Smith was fired at Minnesota just a day after the Gophers’ NCAA tournament exit. But who does the school think they can get? Shaka Smart? Jay Wright? Whoever it is, it’s going to be a gamble. (The Dagger)

– Butler associate head coach Matt Graves has been named as the new head coach at South Alabama. (AL.com)

– Jackson State has named accomplished high school coach Wayne Brent as the programs new head coach. (Clarion Ledger)

– Cal guard Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, will likely make his NBA draft decision sometime in late-April. (Mercury News)

– Washington sophomore forward Martin Breunig has decided to transfer. (Husky Haul)

– Clemson forward Bernard has announced that he will transfer out of the Tigers’ basketball program. (Post and Courier)

– Maryland guard Seth Allen broke a bone in his hand this weekend and will miss the remainder of the Terp’s postseason games. Maryland is participating in the N.I.T. and will face Alabama on Tuesday. (Baltimore Sun)
Odds & Ends:
– Sweet Sixteen efficiency visualizations. Much cooler than it sounds. (Hoop Vision)

– Florida Gulf Coast is getting 75/1 odds to win the NCAA tournament. Louisville is the betting favorite at 3/1 odds. (Card Chronicle)

– In case this matters, Andy Enfield’s house has bene on the market for over a year. A new job may be on the horizon thanks to the Eagles’ performance in the NCAA tournament. (Busted Coverage)

– A Cinderella edition of “Where are they now?” (USA Today)
Picture of the Day:
This is from the Duke student newspaper. This is awesome. (College Spun)


Video of the Day:
A cool time-lapse video of the Final Four court being constructed. (MLive.com)

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.