The Morning Mix

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Good news everyone. We’re only 36 hours away from another installment of meaningful postseason basketball. There’s some half-decent N.I.T. games tonight if you’re really scratching at the itch tonight.

Let’s hit the links.
 
 
Read of the Day:
Here’s an interesting stat: Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski is the only top-10 recruit in this season’s freshman class that hasn’t been eliminated from March Madness. For the most part, the 2013 NCAA tournament has belonged to guys who were not highly sought after coming out of high school. Read this. (Yahoo Sports)
 
 
Top Stories:
Breaking Down the Sweet 16: The X-factor in each game: College Basketball Talk predicts the x-factor for every Sweet Sixteen. Can Florida stop #DunkCity? What lineup adjustments will be made between Ohio State and Arizona?

Ranking the Watchability of the Sweet Sixteen matchups: There are four games on Thursday and four games on Friday. We rank them in terms of watchabillity. No. 1 shouldn’t be hard to figure out. #DunkCity.

Soon-to-be-renamed Big East signs basketball rights deal with CBS Sports: The remaining members of the Big East, along with the programs on their way in, have agreed to media rights deal with CBS. The deal allows for up to 12 games to be broadcast by CBS annually. Of those twelve, six will be conference games.
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Aaron Craft is being compared to Tim Tebow. Of course. (Fox Sports Ohio)

– With Miami’s dominance, Florida’s longevity and FGCU’s cinderella story, the state of Florida is controlling the college hoops world. (Dallas Star-Telegram)

– Ron Baker was the hero of Wichita State’s upset win over Gonzaga in the third round. But Ken Pomeroy wants to know why Wichita State Baker, who missed 21 games this season due to injury, didn’t get the same treatment as Oregon and Dominic Artis, who missed nine games this season. (KenPom Blog)

– Evansville’s Colt Ryan became the all-time leading scorer in Evansville history last night, scoring 39 points against Canisius in the C.I.T. Quarterfinals. (Mid-Major Madness)

– Seth Greenberg examines the different “match-up nightmares” facing each team in the Sweet Sixteen. (ESPN Insider)

– How exactly do you stop #DunkCity? College ChalkTalk gets a coach’s perspective on controlling the Eagles’ up-tempo offense. (College ChalkTalk)

– Kansas and Louisville remain as the only substantial threats to denying a potential all Big-Ten Final Four. (The Dagger)

– According to statistics, the 2013 edition of March Madness has been of of the most maddening of all time. (Harvard Sports Analysis Collective)

– NC-State fans come to the defense of the often-criticized Wolfpack forward C.J. Leslie, who is expected to declare for the NBA draft. (State Fans Nation)

– Shaka Smart is going to be a top candidate for all the major openings across the country. UCLA could make a splash if they hired Smart away from VCU. But would “HAVOC” be a good fit out in Westwood? John Gasaway examines. (ESPN Insider)

– A look at who will stay in school and who will go pro out of the Pac-12. (Pacific Takes)

– Iowa State’s off-season will be filled with “what ifs” following a year plagued by heartbreaking losses. (Ames Tribune)

– An excellent breakdown of the five most indispensable players in the Sweet Sixteen. (ESPN)

– James Madison is looking to make a move. In other words, the CAA is on its way to becoming the new WAC. (JMU Sports Blog)
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Tulsa is moving out of the old Conference-USA and in to the new/old Big East, a.k.a. Conference-USA.(Examiner.com)

– Eamonn Brennan has been on top of the on-going turmoil at Wake Forest better than anybody in the country. The Deacons are going to stick with Bzdelik, much to the chagrin of the disgruntled fan base. (ESPN)

– Josh Pastner has agreed in principle to a contract extension to remain the head coach at Memphis. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– Northwestern has zeroed in on Duke assistant Chris Collins as the man to replace Bill Carmody as head coach of the Wildcats. An announcement could come within the next 12 hours or so. (CSN Chicago)

– Buffalo has hired Duke-great Bobby Hurley as their new head coach. He spent this past season as an assistant coach under his brother Danny at Rhode Island. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Ole Miss is expecting Marshall Henderson to return for his senior year. But as is the case with Henderson himself, expect the unexpected. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Mark Gottfried to UCLA? Think about it. Shaka is staying at VCU. Brad Stevens is staying at Butler. Richard Howell and Scott Wood are graduating. C.J. Leslie and Lorenzo Brown are going pro. Gottfried was an assistant there for the 1995 National Championship. It all makes sense. (SNY.tv)

– Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell has declared for the NBA Draft, and did so on Twitter. (Arkansas Online)

– According to head coach Roy Williams, no North Carolina players are definitely leaving early yet. (ESPN)

– Virginia Tech sophomore Robert Brown has announced his intentions to transfer out of Blacksburg. It’s shocking to think about what Tech’s roster could have looked like this season: Erick Green, Robert Brown, Jarell Eddie, Cadarian Raines along with Montrezl Harrell (Louisville), Tyrone Garland (La Salle), Dorian Finney-Smith (Florida) and Allen Chaney (High Point). That team would have made the field of 68 this year. (Washington Post)

– It looks like Austin Peay is losing the services of three players, all of whom have decided to transfer out of the program. (OVC Ball)

– An excellent who’s-who Twitter list for all Sweet Sixteen. (Run The Floor)

– A Q&A with Seth Curry’s mom. No, seriously. A Q&A with Seth Curry’s mom. (Lost Letterman)
 
 
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VIDEO: Colorado’s McKinley Wright gets a friendly bounce with buzzer-beater to beat Quinnipiac

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The iron was kind to Colorado’s McKinley Wright, as he was able to get a game-winning three at the buzzer to drop as the Buffaloes avoided an embarrassing loss to Quinnipiac in the opener of the Paradise Jam:

https://twitter.com/FloHoops/status/931690797992472576/video/1

Colorado was down by as many as 13 points in the second half, using a 23-9 run to close the game and escape with the 70-69 win.

Guy’s 29 lead Virginia past VCU, 76-67

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Guy was never hesitant when Virginia needed a basket, and because he wasn’t, the Cavaliers were able to hold off VCU, 76-67 on Friday.

Guy scored a career-best 29 points and hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes after the Rams closed to within three, bringing roars from a soldout crowd at the Seigel Center. The first 3-pointer gave the Cavaliers a 66-60 lead, and the next one pushed it to 74-67 with just 41 seconds remaining.

“It was a blast,” Guy said. “This is one of the better environments I’ve played in.”

The Cavaliers won by taking care of the ball, committing only five turnovers, and by cashing in on VCU’s mistakes. The Rams turned the ball over a dozen times, and Virginia outscored them 16-2 off turnovers and 18-0 on fast break points. Those advantages helped them overcome a 36-26 rebounding disadvantage.

The Cavaliers (3-0) also made 10 3-pointers, with Guy accounting for half of them.

“Any time you’ve got a guy like that, get him going early and he becomes a buzz-saw,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said of Guy.

“We got some good looks and then Kyle put on a heck of a shooting clinic with the shots he was making,” coach Tony Bennett said.

Ty Jerome also hit from long range in the closing minutes after VCU (2-1) closed to within 68-64 with just over 2 minutes remaining.

After Guy made it 66-60 with 2:55 to play, Issac Vann scored made it 66-62 with a driving basket, but Guy hit a pair of free throws and, after a driving basket by Williams, Jerome followed with his third 3-pointer of the game. Jerome added 13 points and seven assists for Virginia.

Vann led VCU with 19 points, Johnny Williams had 14 and Khris Lane 12.

“If you told me 48 hours ago, three days ago, four days ago it would be a 2-minute game, one-possession game, 2 minutes, I would have taken it,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “… I want this to sting for about an hour. Make it hurt for an hour and let’s use this and get better.”

The Rams left after the game for Hawaii and the Maui Invitational.

“It’s a tough loss, a learning experience and we’ve got more basketball coming up this week,” Vann said.

THE BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers had little trouble with VCU’s pressure, turning the ball over just five times and outscoring the Rams 16-2 off turnovers. They also outscored the Rams 18-0 on fast break points, but they were beaten on the backboards 36-26. VCU had 10 offensive rebounds, but just six second-chance points.

VCU: The Rams averaged 94.5 points in their first two games, but are still working to integrate what first-year coach Mike Rhoades wants them to do on offense and defense. Johnny Williams can be a force driving to the basket, and transfer Vann gives them another quality 3-point shooter. They cam,e into the game forcing an average of 14 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Virginia is at home on Sunday against Monmouth.

VCU faces Marquette in the Maui Invitational on Monday.

Pro golfer, Wisconsin fan Steve Stricker does not like J.P. Macura

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Wisconsin resident, Badger fan and pro golfer Steve Stricker was not happy after UW lost to Xavier on Thursday night.

For starters, his team lost.

That sucks.

Then J.P. Macura went and rubbed it in everyone’s face, doing the Gator Chomp at the student section after he threw down an alley-oop with less than a minute left:

Stricker was not having any of it:

Me?

I loved it.

And maybe, just maybe, the fact that Wisconsin’s entire student section spent the game telling Macura that he’s an a****** had something to do with his reaction.

Also … how many middle fingers do you see in this picture?

Thank you Badger fans. What a hostile environment.. I appreciate the love

A post shared by Jp Macura (@jpmacura) on

Lonnie Walker hurt as No. 11 Hurricanes beat A&M 90-59

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker IV twisted his left ankle Thursday night, and coach Jim Larranaga was sore himself after the latest lopsided win by the 11th-ranked Miami Hurricanes.

Larranaga said Walker wasn’t seriously hurt, and the coach seemed more concerned about his team’s effort and focus in a 90-59 victory over Florida A&M.

“I didn’t think we were very good from start to finish,” Larranaga said. “We need to play a whole lot harder, and better defensively. We looked sluggish. I told the team I was extremely disappointed in our effort.”

Walker was assisted to the locker room in the first half after stepping on another player. The Hurricanes are scheduled to play La Salle next Wednesday in Walker’s hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania.

“We won’t know for a couple of days, but I think he’s fine,” Larranaga said.

Is he likely to play in the next game?

“Oh, he’s going to play in Reading,” Larranaga said.

Trump urges 3 UCLA players to thank China leader for release

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump urged three suspended UCLA basketball players on Thursday to thank China’s president for their freedom after they shoplifted in China.

The president’s suggestion came a day after he tweeted: “Do you think the three UCLA basketball players will say thank you President Trump. They were headed for 10 years in jail.”

The trio apologized that day and publicly thanked Trump, who was in Asia last week, for his help. On Thursday morning, the president sent another tweet: “You’re welcome. go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible.”

In the same tweet, Trump said, “HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!”

Later in the day, as he rallied House Republicans before a crucial vote on a tax overhaul, Trump talked about his efforts to release the players

Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas said Trump “personally engaged the Chinese president and it turned out the way it did,” with the players released. He said China is known for being “extremely punitive” with criminal suspects, adding: “This could have been a disaster for those families.”

Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were detained in Hangzhou for questioning last week before the Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai. The rest of the team returned home Saturday.

Athletic director Dan Guerrero said the shoplifting occurred when the team had 90 minutes of free time on Nov. 6 in Hangzhou. He said the three took items from three stores.

The players are suspended indefinitely, and coach Steve Alford says they will have to earn their way back onto the team.