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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)

source:

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

Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham arrested over unpaid ticket

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Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham was arrested and booked into Douglas County Jail late on Wednesday night on a failure to appear for court charge, according to jail records.

The charge, according to the Lawrence Journal-World, was a result of an unpaid ticket for an expired tag that Graham had received. It dates back to June of last year.

The arrest was a damper on what should have been a great night for Graham. He had 17 points and seven assists in a home win over TCU that clinched the 13th straight Big 12 regular season title for the Jayhawks. It was also his 22nd birthday.

He was released on $196 bond Wednesday night. Bill Self said he will not be suspended for the arrest.

Bracketology: Syracuse banks in a little Madness

SYRACUSE, NY - FEBRUARY 22:  John Gillon #4 of the Syracuse Orange celebrates tying the game with little time left on the clock during the second half against the Duke Blue Devils on February 22, 2017 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse upsets Duke 78-75.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
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The bank was open Wednesday night in Syracuse. John Gillon’s three-pointer at the buzzer lifted Syracuse over Duke at the Carrier Dome and back (again) into the bracket.

It’s been a wild month for the Orange who now need to close the deal.  It was also a big night for Providence, who used a Kyron Cartwright trey to knock off Creighton in Omaha.  And then Dillon Brooks nailed a long-distance dagger to beat California, leaving the Bears teetering for bracket survival as February comes to a close.  Are we ready for March?

No changes on the No. 1 seed line. By a whisker, Villanova holds onto the overall No. 1 seed after its second loss to Butler, a team whose profile is far better than its AP ranking. Kansas, North Carolina, and Gonzaga round out the group.  UNC moves up to No. 3 after dispatching Louisville.

If last night was any indication, it’s going to be fun ride toward Selection Sunday.

UPDATED: February 23, 2017

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Regarding bracketing principles, can read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Seton Hall vs. Kansas State | East Region
  • Providence vs. California Midwest Region
  • MT. ST. MARY’S vs. NC-CENTRAL | East Region
  • UC-IRVINE vs. NEW ORLEANS | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EAST New York MIDWEST Kansas City              
Buffalo Tulsa
1) VILLANOVA 1) KANSAS
16) NC-CENTRAL / M.S. MARY’S 16) NEW ORLEANS / UC-IRVINE
8) South Carolina 8) Northwestern
9) VCU 9) Xavier
Milwaukee Milwaukee
5) Virginia 5) Notre Dame
12) UNC-WILMINGTON 12) ILLINOIS STATE
4) PURDUE 4) Butler
13) PRINCETON 13) VALPARAISO
Indianapolis Orlando
6) Saint Mary’s 6) SMU
11) Seton Hall / Kansas State 11) Providence / California
3) Kentucky 3) Florida State
14) AKRON 14) BELMONT
Indianapolis Salt Lake City
7) Maryland 7) Iowa State
10) Marquette 10) Wichita State
2) Louisville 2) ARIZONA
15) BUCKNELL 15) NO. DAKOTA ST
WEST – San Jose SOUTH – Memphis
Salt Lake City Greenville
1) GONZAGA 1) NORTH CAROLINA
16) NORTH DAKOTA 16) TX-SOUTHERN
8) Miami-FL 8) Dayton
9) Michigan 9) Arkansas
Buffalo Sacramento
5) CINCINNATI 5) Wisconsin
12) MONMOUTH 12) UT-ARLINGTON
4) West Virginia 4) UCLA
13) VERMONT 13) NEVADA
Greenville Orlando
6) Creighton 6) Minnesota
11) MID TENNESSEE ST 11) Syracuse
3) Duke 3) FLORIDA
14) FLA GULF COAST 14) E. TENNESSEE ST
Sacramento Tulsa
7) Oklahoma State 7) Virginia Tech
10) Michigan State 10) USC
2) Oregon 2) Baylor
15) CSU-BAKERSFIELD 15) UNC-ASHEVILLE

NOTES on the BRACKET: Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Kansas, North Carolina, and Gonzaga.

Last Four Byes (at large): Michigan State, Wichita State, Marquette, Syracuse

Last Four IN (at large): Seton Hall, California, Providence, Kansas State

First Four OUT (at large): Wake Forest, TCU, Georgia Tech, Rhode Island

Next four teams OUT (at large): Vanderbilt, Clemson, Alabama, Houston

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): NORTH CAROLINA, Louisville, Florida State, Duke, Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami-FL, Syracuse

Big 10 (7): PURDUE, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maryland, Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State

Big East (7): VILLANOVA, Butler, Creighton, Xavier, Marquette, Seton Hall, Providence

Big 12 (6): KANSAS, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State

Pac 12 (5): OREGON, Arizona, UCLA, USC, California

SEC (4): FLORIDA, Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas

Atlantic 10 (2): VCU, Dayton

American (2): CINCINNATI, SMU

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (1): ILLINOIS STATE, Wichita State

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), UT-Arlington (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), North Dakota (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), New Orleans (SLND), East Tennessee State (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), CSU-Bakersfield (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Mt. St. Mary’s (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)

VIDEO: Bill Self tells hilarious Brandon Rush story

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 27: Bill Self head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks claps for his team as they celebrate winning the Big 12 Conference Championship after they defeated Texas Tech Red Raiders 67-58 at Allen Fieldhouse on February 27, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. With the win, Kansas clinched its 12th straight conference championship. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Last night, as Kansas clinched their 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title, the Jayhawk program retired for star Brandon Rush’s jersey. Rush was a member of the 2008 national title team and is still bouncing around the NBA despite a series of knee injuries.

He’s a helluva player.

He’s also a terrible liar, as evidenced by the story that Bill Self told about him in last night’s press conference:

I guess honesty really is the best policy.

No. 22 Butler ruins No. 2 Villanova’s seniors’ perfect Pavilion record

Butler center Nate Fowler and Villanova forward Eric Paschall, right, vie for a rebound in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in Villanova, Pa. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson
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All Villanova players have known since they joined the program is winning at The Pavilion. Late into Wednesday’s game against No. 22 Butler, it looked like that would continue to be their only frame of reference for a group of seniors that were 45-0 in the building.

Then another ‘0’ turned that zero into a ‘1.’

The Bulldogs ripped off an 18-0 run in a 5-minute span to ultimately claim a 74-66 victory over second-ranked and defending national champion Villanova.

Villanova looked like it was going to cruise to another home win when Josh Hart’s 3-pointer with 10 minutes, 37 seconds remaining put the Wildcats up 49-42.

They wouldn’t score again until nearly the 4-minute mark.

During that span, Butler made 7 of 11 shots, with three being 3-pointers, while the Wildcats went 0 of 6 from the field and turned the ball over twice.

A seven-point lead for Villanova became an 11-point advantage for Butler. Villanova would try to rally, but couldn’t pull it off as it saw its home winning run stopped, its seniors’ perfect Pavilion record blemished and its seven-game winning streak come to a halt.

Beyond it probably being immensely annoying to the senior class, the loss probably doesn’t hurt Villanova too much as it looks to hold on to a No. 1 seed, preferably in the East region. The Wildcats’ resume is still as strong as nearly anyone in the country and they are, after all, the defending champs. They’ll be fine.

For Butler, it’s a signature win for a team that’s had a number of really good victories, but a few confounding losses, like St. John’s on the road and to Creighton (without Maurice Watson) and Georgetown at home. Beating Villanova – at the Pavilion, no less – could be worth a seed line.

Kelan Martin was fantastic for Butler, going for 23 points and eight boards, while Kamar Baldwin went for 15 points off the bench.

Jalen Brunson led the way for Villanova with 24 points while Josh Hart had 18 points and six rebounds. Kris Jenkins struggled, going 1 of 8 from the floor while scoring eight points.

The Wildcats get a chance to start a new streak at the Pavilion on Saturday with Creighton coming to town.

 

No. 8 North Carolina stakes their claim to the title of ‘nation’s best’ with beatdown of No. 7 Louisville

CHAPEL HILL, NC - FEBRUARY 22:  Theo Pinson #1 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after a play against the Louisville Cardinals during their game at the Dean Smith Center on February 22, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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North Carolina may not have anyone on their roster that sends chills down the spine of opposing coaches, and they may not have anyone on their roster that is going to be targeted by NBA franchises as lottery pick, and they may not be dominating the headlines like undefeated Gonzaga, reigning champ Villanova, winner of 13 straight Big 12 titles Kansas or even Tobacco Road rival Duke.

They’re not a sexy pick, they’re not the favorite in Vegas and they may finally crack the No. 1 seed line in all bracket projections after beating No. 7 Louisville 74-63 on Wednesday night, but at this point, I’m not sure that the Tar Heels aren’t the best team in college basketball.

‘The Best Team In College Basketball’ is not an easy title to earn this season, not because there are too many candidates but more because everyone of those candidates have some kind of glaring flaw that makes you wonder have they’ve made it to late-February with a winning record. Think: UCLA’s defense. Or maybe: Kansas’ total lack of front court depth. How about: Kentucky can’t shoot. And then there’s: Duke doesn’t have a point guard, or: Gonzaga doesn’t play anyone.

We can play that game with every team in the country.

In fact, I did, just last week on a podcast.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

North Carolina didn’t escape our wrath. There are question marks about Joel Berry II’s consistency, as he had a nasty habit of laying an egg every once in a while. Is that defense going to hold up for six games in a single-elimination tournament? Do they have enough consistent three-point shooting? Can Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson stay healthy?

Here’s the thing: I think the answer to all those questions is ‘yes’.

Justin Jackson has developed into a bonafide all-american and quite possibly the ACC Player of the Year. He’s a versatile scorer that is shooting the grip off the ball and has proven the ability to be the guy to take and make big shots for the Tar Heels this season. That’s taken some of the pressure off of Berry, who can spend more time as a secondary offensive weapon, facilitator and a leader than having to worry about carrying the team offensively. Theo Pinson’s return has opened some things up offensively, while UNC’s four-headed front court monster — Kennedy Meeks, Hicks, Tony Bradley and Luke Maye — have shown that they can score in the post or off of a missed shot, where they lead the nation on offensive rebounding percentage.

And as far as the defense is concerned, they’re ranked 20th in adjusted defensive efficiency by KenPom.com. Yes, a lot of that has to do with the pistol-whipping that was Gameday on Saturday night against Virginia, but Louisville, who was the third-best offensive team in ACC play, managed just 63 points in 73 possessions on Wednesday.

My point?

That defense doesn’t have to be great, it just has to be good enough, and it probably is.

But here’s the most important number to know: Two.

That’s how big North Carolina’s lead in the ACC is as of today. Louisville, Duke, Florida State and Notre Dame have all lost five times this year. As long as the Tar Heels can go into Pittsburgh and get a win over the Panthers, they are going to clinch a share of the ACC regular season, and they can lock up the outright league title before the showdown with the Dukies on the season’s final night.

The margins are thin, yes, but after Wednesday, North Carolina has as much claim to the title of ‘Nation’s Best’ as anyone in college basketball.