The Morning Mix

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Last night was the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Michigan got a big home win against North Carolina State thanks to a huge performance from Trey Burke. In Bloomington, Indiana steamrolled over a flat North Carolina squad. Virginia Tech and Maryland were the lone ACC teams to win on night one.

But last night was also the first night of Jimmy-V Week. I was too young to remember Valvano as a coach, but the words he imparted on us during his legendary ESPYs speech has inspired and motivate me my entire life. I imagine that I’m not the only one whole feels the same way.

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Wednesday’s Top Games:
7:00 p.m. – Virginia @ Wisconsin
7:00 p.m. – William & Mary @ Richmond
7:00 p.m. – American @ St. Joseph’s
7:15 p.m. – Purdue @ Clemson
7:30 p.m. – No. 13 Michigan State @ Miami (FL)
8:00 p.m. – Oklahoma vs. Oral Roberts
8:00 p.m. – Tulsa @ Wichita State
8:00 p.m. – Utah @ SMU
8:05 p.m. – Boise State @ No. 11 Creighton
9:00 p.m. – Georgia Tech @ No. 22 Illinois
9:00 p.m. – Mercer @ No. 25 New Mexico
9:00 p.m. – Montana @ BYU
9:15 p.m. – Boston College @ Penn State
9:30 p.m. – No. 4 Ohio State @ No. 2 Duke
10:00 p.m. – Northern Arizona @ No. 9 Arizona
10:00 p.m. – UC-Irvine @ No. 24 UNLV
12:00 a.m. – Saint Louis @ Washington

Read of the Day:
Athlon Sports released their “Off the Record” survey from current college basketball players. Kim Kardashian is the hottest women alive apparently. Personally, I’d pick Upton or Good out of the group, but hey, that’s a debate for a rainy day. But make sure you read this. I do love me a good survey. (Athlon Sports)

Read of the Day:
Casual Hoya details how greed will destroy modern amateur athletics. Read it. (Casual Hoya)

Top Stories:
Former-SDSU forward Tim Shelton makes best music video of the season: The former-Aztec is a talented hip-hop artist and released yet another Aztec anthem. This one, titled “Montezuma 55” is legitimately good. Best music video I’ve seen all year.

North Carolina’s blowout loss at Indiana was far worse than just a blowout: The young Tar Heels looked out-matched. they looked like they had no business being on the same court as the Hoosiers. Marcus Paige is not Kendall Marshall, and James Michael McAdoo is not Tyler Hansbrough. This could be a very long season in Chapel Hill.

Michigan looked like a National Championship night in victory over NC-State: Trey Burke looked like an All-American and the Wolverines’ freshman stepped up large in a dominant win over the Wolfpack. Michigan led early and often, and was able to fight off a late rally to secure a very impressive early season victory.

ACC files lawsuit against Maryland: The Atlantic Coast Conference has filed a lawsuit against member school Maryland in a North Carolina court after the school’s announcement last week that it would leave the ACC for the Big Ten. The lawsuit is in regard to the $50-million exit fee the conference imposed on member schools earlier this year.

Tulane and East Carolina are joining the Big East: The Green Wave will become full-time members while the Pirates will join for football only. If all stays put, the Big East will have 10 former C-USA schools as big East members in 2014.

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Missouri’s Michael Dixon remains suspended for “a violation of team rules”. Steve Walentik has the graphic details of the rape accusations that were made against Dixon stemming from an August incident. (Columbia Tribune)

– Former-Washington Husky Doug Wrenn was convicted on Tuesday afternoon of harassing and cyber stalking a former girlfriend. (Seattle Times)

– Tulsa has placed Athletic Director Ross Parmley on paid administrative leave as the university investigates allegations of illegal sports gambling. (CBS Sports)

– Marquette guard Vander Blue is expected to play against Florida on Thursday after missing the Golden Eagles game on Monday against UMBC. (Fox Sports Wisconsin)

– SIU-Edwardsville forward Mark Yelovich is day-to-day with an ankle injury. (OVC Ball)

– After receiving X-rays on his surgically repaired foot, California sophomore Ricky Kreklow should be able to return soon, although he is doubtful for the Bears next game. (Bear Talk)

– Cleveland State’s Anton Grady will miss tonight’s game against Ball State because of a knee injury. (Cleveland State Hoops)

– UNLV freshman phenom Anthony Bennett may miss tonight’s game against UC-Irvine because of a lower back injury. (Las Vegas Sun)

– The NCAA has hired Val Ackerman as a consultant for women’s basketball. (Fox Sports)

Observations & Insight:
– The ACC will vote on expanding the conference later today, and it looks like if the ACC does expand, Louisville is going to get the nod. (ACC Sports Journal)

– North Carolina dispels rumors that it wants to join the Big Ten. (Sporting News)

– A stock report from the first night of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (The Dagger)

– Mike DeCourcy doesn’t think the Tulane/Big East marriage will work, and I totally agree with him. (Sporting News)

– The WAC is desperately trying to stay afloat. After losing Denver on Monday, the conference has added Grand Canyon, a school most of us never knew existed. (Yahoo Sports)

– With Gorgui Dieng sidelined with a broken wrist, back-up center Stephen Van Treese is going to be called on to pick up the slack. Van Treese missed almost all of last season due to injury. (The Cardinal Connect)

– Jeff Borzello updates his Freshman of the Year rankings. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Dave Telep wonders if the hectic travel schedules of AAU basketball players is contributing to the recent outbreak in injuries among some the most elite high school players in the country. (ESPN Insider)

– Luke Winn provides his list of the top-16 best shooters in the country, now w/ more pictures. (Sports Illustrated)

– What is wrong with UCLA coach Ben Howland? An excellent read. (Bruins Nation)

– A quick look at the MAC power rankings. (Hustle Belt)

– I love lists like this: The All-Chicago Team. (Run The Floor)

Odds & Ends
– ICYMI, the lights did breifly go out at Assembly Hall during the Hoosiers rout of North Carolina last night. (The Big Lead)

– What has happened to our beloved Big East Conference? (Big East Hoops)

– Some expansion thoughts from a James Madison perspective. (JMU Sports Blog)

Dunk of the Day:
This dunk from Minnesota’s Rodney Williams is just silly. I wish I could do that. (Ballin’ is a Habit)

Video(s) of the Day:
Vermont got a quality non-conference road-win over a gutsy Harvard squad 85-78.

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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.