Illinois v Miami

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.(

– 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. (

– 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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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.