Previewing the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon

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For the third straight season, ESPN will be airing their 24 Hour Tip-Off Marathon, which starts at midnight tonight. Twenty games
in total, over the course of 25 hours. Its what every college
basketball fan dreams about.

Here is the full schedule:

Midnight: Miami at Memphis, ESPN
2:00 am: St. John’s at Saint Mary’s, ESPN
4:00 am: Central Michigan at Hawaii, ESPN
6:00 am: Stony Brook at Monmouth, ESPN
8:00 am: Robert Morris at Kent State, ESPN
10:00 am: Northeastern at Southern Illinois, ESPN
Noon: Oral Roberts at Tulsa, ESPN
2:00 pm: La Salle at Baylor, ESPN
4:00 pm: Virginia Tech at Kansas State, ESPN
5:30 pm: Marist at Villanova, ESPNU
6:00 pm: Ohio State at Florida, ESPN
6:00 pm: Baylor at Connecticut, ESPN2
7:00 pm: Detroit at Syracuse, ESPN3.com
7:30 pm: Miami (Ohio) at Duke, ESPNU
7:30 pm: St. Joseph’s at Penn State, ESPN3.com
8:00 pm: Butler at Louisville, ESPN
8:00 pm: North Dakota at Wisconsin, ESPN3.com
9:30 pm: Belmont at Tennessee, ESPNU
10:00 pm: South Carolina at Michigan State, ESPN
11:00 pm: San Diego State vs. Gonzaga (in Spokane, WA), ESPN2
11:30 pm: Nevada or Pacific at UCLA, ESPNU (Note:
Nevada and Pacific play today at 5:30 pm PST while UCLA will play Cal
State Northridge. The winners will advance and play each other.)

Here is the rank and preview each of the twenty games:

1. 6:00 pm: Ohio State at Florida:
A rematch of the 2007 NCAA title game, the Buckeyes will once again
have a uber-talented freshman manning the paint in 6’8″ Jared
Sullinger, who had 19 points and 14 boards in the Buckeye’s opener.
There is plenty of other talent on the OSU roster, however. Another
freshman — DeShaun Thomas — had 24 points in the opener, while David
Lighty, William Buford, and Jon Diebler all return on the perimeter.
Perhaps the most important piece for this team will end up being Aaron
Craft, a freshman point guard that went for 8 points, 9 assists, and 0
turnovers in his debut.

With
Enes Kanter done for the season, the Gators look to be the favorite to
win the SEC East. They have a super back court with Kenny Boynton and
Erving Walker, and with guys like Chandler Parsons and Alex Tyus up
front, Billy Donovan had plenty of length and athleticism. The biggest
issue for the Gators is how they will go about slowing down Sullinger,
who is much stronger than Gator’s front court. Freshman Patric Young
was brought in for situations like this, but he looked like a freshman
in the first game.

BIAH Prediction: Ohio State 70, Florida 67

2. 11:00 pm: San Diego State vs. Gonzaga
(in Spokane, WA): Believe it or not, this could very well be a matchup
of the two best teams on the west coast. This game will also provide us
with the best individual matchup as Elias Harris and Kawhi Leonard
(hopefully) spend the evening going at each other. Harris is the more
polished of the two right now, as he has the ability to attack from the
perimeter. Leonard is probably more aggressive and more athletic at
this point in their careers and does most of his damage in transition
and on the offensive glass.

SDSU
is known for their front court, but this season the Zags has a big and
talented front line. What this game could come down to is who gets the
most out of their back court. Steven Gray is playing some of the best
basketball of his career right now, averaging 21.0 ppg, 8.5 apg, and
7.5 rpg, but between DJ Gay had 20 in the opener for the Aztecs while
James Rohan knocked down three huge threes in the second half.

BIAH Prediction: Gonzaga 81, SDSU 72

3. 4:00 pm: Virginia Tech at Kansas State:
If Kawhi Leonard and Elias Harris isn’t the best individual matchup of
the marathon, Malcolm Delaney and Jacob Pullen is. Not only are these
two arguably the two best lead guards in the country, they may very
well be the two best scorers in the country.

Kansas State’s
advantage is obviously on the interior as Tech is missing JT Thompson
and Allan Chaney, but that advantage looks to be mitigated. Curtis
Kelly will sit out for the second game in a row, and his replacements
(Freddy Asprilla and Wally Judge) finished with 2 points, 5 boards, 6
turnovers, and 7 fouls.

BIAH Prediction: Kansas State 69, Virginia Tech 59

4. 2:00 am: St. John’s at Saint Mary’s:
Steve Lavin is returning to the West Coast, where he has been
absolutely cleaning up on the recruiting trail. The Johnnies, under
their new head coach, look to make their first tournament trip in a
long, long time. St. Mary’s kicks off their post-Samhan era by hosting
a team from the Big East. There are enough storylines here to
overshadow the fact that this is an early season non-conference game
with a ton of significance. Both of these teams will be in or around
the bubble come March. Will this result play a part in who gets in and
who doesn’t?

And yes, I just referenced the bubble. Before Thanksgiving.

BIAH Prediction: St. Mary’s 76, St. John’s 75 OT

5. 8:00 pm: Butler at Louisville:
Butler gets their first real test of the season as the head to
Louisville to christen the brand new KFC Yum! Center. I find it very
difficult to believe that the Bulldogs will be nearly as good as they
were last season. I love Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored, but without a
future pro like Hayward, I think Butler simply regresses to “very good
mid-major” as opposed to “national power.” Having said that, if Howard
can play big inside, the Bulldogs are more than capable of knocking off
a Cardinals team that is depleted due to ineligible freshmen and
injuries.

BIAH Prediction: Butler 59, Louisville 50

6. Midnight: Miami FL at Memphis:
Memphis may not have Jelan Kendrick, but this is still going to be a
very good basketball team. Just how good remains to be seen. This is a
deep team with a lot of weapons offensively — Joe Jackson, Will
Barton, Wesley Witherspoon, Angel Garcia. They should be, at worst, a
top 25 team and win C-USA. But Miami isn’t terrible. They have some
pieces with Reggie Johnson inside and Durand Scott, Malcolm Grant, and
DeQuan Jones on the perimeter. At the very least, we should get a
number of highlight reel dunks.

BIAH Prediction: Memphis 78, Miami FL 64

7. 10:00 pm: South Carolina at Michigan State:
The Gamecocks lost a ton of talent in the offseason, led by the
graduation of Devan Downey. Michigan State has essentially the same
group of guys that have made back to back Final Fours. I’m intrigued,
however, to see how far along Kalin Lucas is in his recovery, as well
as the improvements made by Durrell Summers in the offseason.

BIAH Prediction: Michigan State 80, South Carolina 62

8. 7:00 pm: Detroit at Syracuse:
If there is going to be an upset of a major conference team by a
mid-major, this looks like the most likely candidate. Detroit has some
buzz during the offseason. They returned much of a roster — including
Eli Holman, who went for 15 points and 13 boards against New Mexico in
the opener — that went 9-9 in the Horizon last season and added one of
the best point guards in the country in Ray McCallum, Jr. (Sr. is the
head coach). Syracuse is talented, but they have not looked great in
their two wins this season. They’ve struggled from the perimeter, Fab
Melo has looked raw inside, and Kris Joseph hasn’t exactly turned into
the star everyone expected him to be. So do I think the Orange will get
upset?

BIAH Prediction: Syracuse 84, Detroit 61

9. 11:30 pm: Nevada or Pacific at UCLA:
I’m hoping this ends up being UCLA and Nevada, as the Wolfpack are a
sleeper team in the WAC. While Armon Johnson and Luke Babbitt both left
for the NBA, Nevada went out and reloaded with transfers and talented
freshmen. Watch out for Deonte Burton, a high-scoring, high-flying
point guard from LA. UCLA, on the other hand, looks like they just
might be back to being UCLA. The key may actually be JuCo transfer
Lazeric Jones at the point, who has seemingly taken over for Jerime
Anderson.

To be fair, if Pacific does win against Nevada, they have a chance to be a mid-major darling as they have already beaten UTEP.

(I’ll update this prediction once I find out who the Bruins are playing.)

10. 8:00 am: Robert Morris at Kent State:
Robert Morris may have lost their head coach, but they bring back Karon
Abraham, who was the team’s leading scorer a year ago. Kent State, who,
like Bobby Mo, won 23 games last season, has gotten off to a bit of a
slow start, losing to Cleveland State, but this is still a group that
should compete in the MAC. The Golden Flashes are led by forward Justin
Greene. This may not be the highest level of basketball, but these are
two good teams with NCAA Tournament potential.

BIAH Prediction: Kent State 68, Robert Morris 61

11. Noon: Oral Roberts at Tulsa:
This game lost some of its luster when Tulsa lost over the weekend to
Appalachian State. That said, these are still two of the best
basketball programs outside of the Big Six, and both are coming off of
20 win seasons.

BIAH Prediction: Tulsa 74, Oral Roberts 70

12. 2:00 pm: La Salle at Baylor:
Baylor will play their second game without LaceDarius Dunn, who is
suspended for three games after hitting his girlfriend over the summer.
It will be interesting to see if AJ Walton played tomorrow; Walton was
expected to start for Baylor before being suspended for the first game.
The Explorers aren’t terrible this season, either. They bring back some
size — Aaric Murray inside — and some versatility on the perimeter.

BIAH Prediction: Baylor 77, La Salle 64

13. 9:30 pm: Belmont at Tennessee:
After Detroit-Syracuse, I think the second most-likely upset of a major
conference team is Tennessee. Belmont is a good program. They return a
lot of experience from a group that won 19 games and finished in a
four-way tie atop the Atlantic Sun. Tennessee is relatively
inexperienced, they are dealing with a ton of off-the-court issues, and
they have not looked anywhere near dominant this season.

BIAH Prediction: Tennessee 74, Belmont 67

14. 8:00 pm: North Dakota @ Wisconsin:
Wisconsin isn’t a team generally known for scoring a lot of points.
They put 99 up against Prarie View A&M. North Dakota won eight
games last season.

BIAH Prediction: Wisconsin 85, North Dakota 51

15. 7:30 pm: Miami (Ohio) at Duke:
Yes, Miami OH can play a little. And I fully expect them to make a run
at the Devils early in the game. But this Duke team is, simply put,
just too damn good this year.

BIAH Prediction: Duke 89, Miami OH 61

16. 5:30 pm: Marist at Villanova: Marist won one game last season. One. Villanova has a chance to win the Big East. This could get ugly quickly.

BIAH Prediction: Villanova 84, Marist 46

17. 10:00 am: Northeastern at Southern Illinois:
SIU has fallen on hard times as Chris Lowery has gotten away from his
grind-it-out defensive style. Northeastern lost so much from their team
last season that it is difficult to see them competing this quickly in
the CAA. Also, keep in mind neither of these teams score all that much.

BIAH Prediction: Northeastern 51, Southern Illinois 44

18. 7:30 pm: St. Joseph’s at Penn State:
The bottom of the A-10 versus the bottom of the Big Ten. Yay. If there
is any reason to watch this game, it is Talor Battle, who is one of the
best point guards in the country. But even then, its not worth missing
Ohio State-Florida or Louisville-Butler.

BIAH Prediction: Penn State 79, St. Joseph’s 58

19. 4:00 am: Central Michigan at Hawaii:
Yuck. Central Michigan and Hawaii are both rebuilding programs, and
this game is being played at 4:00 am EST. If your goal is to make it
for all 24 hours, and you think you’ll need a nap to pull it off,
schedule it for this game.

BIAH Prediction: Hawaii 63, Central Michigan 58

20. 6:00 am: Stony Brook at Monmouth:
Monmouth was picked 10th in the NEC preseason poll, and while Stony
Brook is a pretty good team, they aren’t good enough to draw your
attention to a game that tips when everyone should be sleeping. 6:00 am
basketball is not conducive to having your legs. If you are awake,
however, its worth it to watch this game if nothing else than to see
the dedicated fans that make it to the gym at 6:00 am on a Tuesday.

BIAH Prediction: Stony Brook 74, Monmouth 55

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.