The Morning Mix

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We’re eight hours in to Marathon Madness, and we’ve retained most of our sanity thus far. If you’re up for the challenge, there’s a basketball game on TV/your computer right now. Here’s what’s going on in today’s Morning Mix:

 

Tuesday’s Top Games:
6:00 a.m. – Stony Brook @ Rider
8:00 a.m. – Northern Illinois @ Valparaiso
10:00 a.m. – Harvard @ Massachusetts
12:00 p.m. – Temple @ Kent State
2:00 p.m. – Detroit @ St. John’s
4:00 p.m. – Butler @ Xaiver
7:00 p.m. – Vermont at No.23 Connecticut
7:00 p.m. – No.14 Michigan State vs. No.7 Kansas
7:00 p.m. – UNC-Wilmington @ Richmond
7:00 p.m. – George Mason @ Bucknell
7:00 p.m. – Wichita State @ VCU
9:00 p.m. – Lehigh @ Pittsburgh
9:30 p.m. – No.8 Duke vs. No.3 Kentucky
9:30 p.m. – Long Beach State @ USC

 

Top Stories:
New Mexico outlasts Davidson in a shootout at The Pit: The Lobos and Wildcats engaged in an early season “Game of the Year” candidate at The Pit. Davidson got out to a large first half lead, but Kendall Williams and Tony Snell led the Lobos back, and Wildcats did not have the endurance to keep up the pace.

Gonzaga’s talented depth stifles West Virginia: In the opening game of Marathon Madness, Gonzaga showed why they’re expected to make a run at the Final Four by stifling a sloppy Mountaineers squad 84-50.

LIU-Brooklyn falls to 0-2: The Blackbirds are the reigning NEC champions and have the talent and experience to dominate inferior competition. But the squad struggled to defend in the first two games of the season, and the loss of head coach Jim Ferry is starting to show on the court

Youngstown State topples Georgia, moves to 2-0: The mighty Penguins of Youngstown State outclassed the Georgia Bulldogs 68-56 in the first round of the Progressive Legends Classic. With the win, YSU moves to 2-0, having defeated George Washington over the weekend.

Dayton keeps “First Four”, MSG gets regional site: The NCAA announced on Monday that Dayton will continue to serve host to the opening round until 2014-2015. additionally, Madison Square Garden will serve as a regional host for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 53 years.

Kentucky guard Ryan Harrow sick, will not travel for Champions Classic: Kentucky point guard Ryan Harrow, who struggled in the season-opener against Maryland, is battling the flu, and will not travel with the team to Atlanta for the Champions Classic. The Wildcats will have to rely on walk-on Jarrod Polson to handle the point against Duke, but the junior played admirably in the season-opener.

 

Observations & Analysis:
– Speaking of creative places to hold basketball games, here’s a solid list of ten places college hoops needs to go to next. (The College Court)

– Worst loss of the day goes to North Texas, who lost to Alabama-Huntsville (D-II) 78-75 in the opening round of the N.I.T. Preseason Tip-Off (The Dagger)

– Doug Gottlieb made four snap judgements from the first weekend in college hoops (Eye on College Basketball)

– All five starters for the Memphis Tigers last night are hometown kids. Something like this does not happen frequently, especially not for a city like Memphis (ESPN)

– After two games in four days, it’s easy to see why Mark Turgeon is confident that his Terrapins squad has the talent and depth to be a force this season (Washington Post)

 

Odds & Ends:
– Wichita isn’t the sexiest location on the map, but it’s a great tournament venue and should not have been snubbed from the 2014-2015 NCAA Tournament. (KFDI FM 101.3)

– The best pictures from the first weekend of college hoops (Eye on College Basketball)

– Despite negative reviews, the Carrier Classic is going to continue in 2013 (ESPN)

– Kentucky freshman Willie Cauley-Stein doesn’t know who Christian Laettner is, never seen video of “The Shot” (The Dagger)

– This is exactly why we ranked St. Joseph’s Ronald Roberts as one of the top-10 dunkers in the country (Philahoops.com)

– After vocalizing his displeasure sitting on the bench, Pittsburgh guard John Johnston has decided to transfer (Cardiac Hill)

 

Tweet of the Day:

@RobDauster: Tony Snell played high school ball with Kawhi Leonard, meaning that team undoubtedly led their conference in lanky arms and cornrows.


Video of the Day:

Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s bassist Flea performed the National Anthem at the opening of the new Pauley Pavillon

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

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

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Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

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With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.

Four-star wing Romeo Weems commits to DePaul

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DePaul landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2019 Tuesday afternoon, as four-star small forward Romeo Weems announced that he will be a Blue Demon. Weems, who attends New Haven HS in New Haven, Michigan, picked DePaul over Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon and is considered by most major scouting services to be a Top 50 prospect in the 2019 graduating class.

The 6-foot-6 Weems plays his grassroots basketball for The Family on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this spring. Weems also has experience playing for USA Basketball, as he was part of the Under-16 team that won the FIBA Americas U16 title last year. Weems will also be part of the training camp from which the Under-17 team will be selected next month in preparation for this summer’s FIBA Under-17 World Championships.

DePaul managing to land a commitment from a prospect of Weems’ caliber, a versatile wing who can defend multiple positions while also being productive offensively, could be the shot in the arm that Dave Leitao’s program so desperately needs if they’re to improve their standing within the Big East.

Since making the move from Conference USA in 2005, DePaul has finished above .500 in a season just once (20-14 in 2006-07) with that also being the only time in which the Blue Demons finished above .500 in Big East play (9-7). Since Leitao, who led DePaul to its most recent NCAA tournament in 2005, returned for his second stint at the school the Blue Demons have gone 29-65.

Getting out of Allstate Arena and moving to the new Wintrust Arena ahead of last season was an important move for the DePaul program, but it’s been clear that the rebuild won’t be a “quick fix.” Bringing in a talent of Weems’ caliber should help DePaul moving forward, with the key now being to recruit well enough to ensure that the talented wing has ample help when he arrives on campus next year.

Among the players currently on the roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019 are guards Devin Gage and Justin Roberts and wing Darious Hall, who will sit out the 2018-19 season after transferring to DePaul from Arkansas. Hall appeared in 35 games for the Razorbacks this past season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per game.