Duke tops field in first bracket projection

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No surprise that Duke is the No. 1 overall seed in our first in-season bracket projection.  The Blue Devils are joined on the top line by Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Kansas.  A strong group of No. 2 seeds includes Michigan State, Kansas State, Georgetown and Connecticut.   Few teams have elevated their outlook more than the Huskies. 

Keep in mind a couple of things.  First, records reflect Division I games only (through games played Sunday, December 5).  Games played against non-Division I teams are not considered part of a team’s NCAA resume.  Second, it’s still very early.  The bracket projection is based on both current results and future expectations.  Some teams have yet to leave their home building, or play a quality opponent.  It’s also important not to place too much importance on one win or loss.  It’s safe to assume that the bracket will change and evolve as we head into conference play in January.  For more bracket-related news, visit Bracketville.

Teams in CAPS reflect the those projected as conference champion (auto bid) for this bracket.  Exceptions are made for those teams that traditionally use an abbreviation (UTEP, BYU, etc).

FIRST FOUR: In the new 68-team format, you will notice two games that represent the First Four pairings. In our opening bracket, the First Four games in Dayton would be … Georgia vs. VCU | Cleveland State vs. St. Mary’s | Jackson State vs. Stephen F. Austin | Morgan State vs. Quinnipiac. The final four at-large teams are paired along with the teams seeded 65-68 on the S-curve. The matchups are indicated in the bracket below. 


EASTNewark   SOUTHEASTNew Orleans
Charlotte   Cleveland
1) DUKE (8-0)   1) OHIO STATE (6-0)
8 Arizona (7-1)   8 Richmond (7-2)
9) OLD DOMINION (5-2)   9) Louisville (6-0)
Chicago   Denver
5) Baylor (6-0)   5) Missouri (6-1)
12) West Virgina (5-2)   12) New Mexico (5-1)
4) Illinois (8-1)   4) Kentucky (5-2)
13) KENT STATE (6-2)   13) CHARLESTON (6-3)
Tampa   Tampa
6) Minnesota (7-1)   6) BYU (8-0)
11) Florida State (6-2)   11) Georgia / VCU
3) TENNESSEE (6-0)   3) MEMPHIS (7-0)
14) OAKLAND (5-3)   14) MURRAY STATE (3-4)
Washington, DC   Charlotte
7) GONZAGA (4-3)   7) North Carolina (5-3)
10) BUTLER (3-3)   10) Washington State (5-1)
2) Connecticut (7-0)   2) Georgetown (8-0)
15) COASTAL CAROLINA (4-2)   15) VERMONT (6-1)
SOUTHWEST – San Antonio   WEST – Anaheim
Cleveland   Tulsa
1) PITTSBURGH (9-0)   1) KANSAS (7-0)
8 TEMPLE (5-2)   8 Wisconsin (6-2)
9) Northwestern (5-0)   9) Miami-FL (6-2)
Tucson   Denver
5) Texas (6-2)   5) WASHINGTON (5-2)
12) Virginia (5-3)   12) Cleveland State / St. Mary’s
4) UNLV (8-0)   4) Villanova (6-1)
13) NORTH TEXAS (6-1)   13) UTAH STATE (5-2)
Washington, DC   Tucson
6) Purdue (7-1)   6) Notre Dame (8-0)
11) Boston College (6-2)   11) California (5-2)
3) Syracuse (8-0)   3) SAN DIEGO STATE (7-0)
14) FAIRFIELD (4-3)   14) WEBER STATE (2-3)
Tulsa   Chicago
7) Vanderbilt (7-1)   7) Florida (6-2)
10) WICHITA STATE (4-2)   10) Texas A-M (6-1)
2) Kansas State (6-1)   2) Michigan State (5-2)
15) UC-SANTA BARBARA (4-3)   15) HARVARD (5-2)



NOTES on the BRACKET: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Ohio State, Pittsburgh, and Kansas. The two seeds in order are Michigan State, Kansas State, Georgetown, and Connecticut.

Last Five teams in (at large): Virginia, VCU, St. Mary’s, Georgia, Cleveland State

First Five teams out (at large): Maryland, Xavier, Cincinnati, Marquette, Central Florida

Also Considered: Virginia Tech, NC State, Mississippi, UCLA, USC, Missouri State, St. John’s, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Northern Iowa, Tulsa, Rhode Island, Oklahoma State, Clemson, Indiana, Dayton, Akron, Southern Mississippi, Wofford, Appalachian State

Bracket adjustments: Texas AM, Louisville, West Virginia moved seed lines to avoid conference conflicts. BYU must be placed in Thursday-Saturday locations for all rounds.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big East (8): PITTSBURGH, Georgetown, Connecticut, Syracuse, Villanova, Notre Dame, Louisville, West Virginia

Big Ten (7): OHIO STATE, Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern

ACC (6): DUKE, North Carolina, Florida State, Miami-FL, Boston College, Virginia

Big 12 (6): KANSAS, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas, Baylor, Texas A-M

SEC (5): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt, Georgia

Mountain West (4): SAN DIEGO STATE, UNLV, BYU, New Mexico

Pac 10 (4): WASHINGTON, Arizona, Washington State, California

Atlantic 10 (2): TEMPLE, Richmond

Colonial (2): OLD DOMINION, VCU

Conference USA (2): MEMPHIS, Central Florida

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, St. Mary’s

Horizon (2): BUTLER, Cleveland State

Missouri Valley (1): WICHITA STATE

Auto Bid conference champions … Utah State (WAC), Murray State (OVC), Fairfield (MAAC), Kent State (MAC), Weber State (Big Sky), Charleston (Southern), Oakland (Summit), UC-Santa Barbara (Big West), Quinnipiac (NEC), Jacksonville (Atlantic Sun), North Texas (Sun Belt), Harvard (Ivy), Coastal Carolina (Big South), Morgan State (MEAC), American (Patriot), Vermont (America East), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), Jackson State (SWAC)

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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

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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.