Previewing your College Hoops weekend

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Sat. 8:00 pm: St. John’s @ No. 15 Notre Dame: The Johnnies are back, baby! Well, at least they will be if they can put together a win in a Saturday night foray into the Joyce Center. After beating West Virginia and Providence on the road and knocking off Georgetown at home, St. John’s heads into the first Big East weekend of the year in first place in the Big East at 3-0. Everyone that has an opinion is going to have a different one on this group. As good as this 3-0 start is, they also have losses to St. Bonaventure and Fordham on their resume.

For Notre Dame, the key to their terrific start — one that has them sitting at 13-2 (2-1) and 15th in the country — has been team play. The Irish move the ball around really well, they understand what a good shot is, they find the guy that is hot, and they usually have a versatile lineup that can give you multiple looks. The reason that I say usually is because Carleton Scott will be out of the lineup as he nurses a hamstring back to health.

The way I see it, there are two keys to this game. The first is that Notre Dame is going to have to execute offensively. St. John’s isn’t the greatest defensive team in terms of efficiency, but they are physical and did a good job of taking Georgetown out of what they wanted to do offensively. The other thing that Notre Dame is going to need to do is slow down St. John’s around the rim. The Johnnies big men have been really effective of late, while DJ Kennedy and Justin Brownlee have proven to be quite dynamic up front.


Sat. 2:00 pm: Marquette @ No. 5 Pitt: Marquette is going to have their problems with this Pitt team. They are not exactly overflowing with powerful front court players, and Pitt is about as big as it gets this season, especially when it comes to crashing the offensive glass. But Marquette is not the kind of team that gets blown out. They scrap, they hustle, and they defend, and in the end they will be in striking distance. With the shooters and perimeter scorers that Buzz Williams has this year, if Marquette can get hot they have a chance.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 11 Kentucky @ Georgia: Trey Thompkins is finally starting to come around. He had 26 points and 7 boards his last time out, and if you factor out his first two games of the season — against Notre Dame and Temple as he was still coming back from his ankle injury — Thompkins is actually having a fairly solid season. I think Georgia is a team that is flying a bit under the radar this year, and while I’m higher on Kentucky than most people, playing your first conference game as a freshmen on the road is not easy. Josh Harrellson better not get into foul trouble.

Sat. 5:00 pm: No. 24 Vanderbilt @ South Carolina: Vanderbilt is a bit different than the typical Vandy teams. They have quite a bit of size and athleticism inside, which combined with guys like John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor makes this a tough team to beat. The bigger issue for Vanderbilt is that they don’t exactly have a point guard. Brad Tinsely is, but he’s more of a playmaking off-guard. Ironically, point guard Brice Ellington, a freshman that starts for Darrin Horn, would be a nice fit for Vandy.

Sat. 8:30 pm: Portland @ Gonzaga: I’m not even sure Portland knocking off the Zags would count as an upset this year as Portland actually has a higher RPI right now. The Pilots shoot a lot of threes, and they hit them at a tremendous clip — 44.4% to be exact. If they get hot, the Zags better watch out.

Sun. 8:00 pm: Maryland @ No. 1 Duke: Yup. I’m saying it. Maryland has a chance to knock off Duke. Its a minute one, I’ll admit, but I like the way that the Terp’s personnel matchup with the Blue Devils. Duke struggles with big, strong post players, and that is Jordan Williams to a T. Gary Williams has also decided to move Terrell Stoglin into the starting lineup. If guys like Sean Mosley, Cliff Tucker, Pe’Shon Howard, and Stoglin play well on the perimeter and Jordan Williams plays like he has all season long, this could be where Duke’s undefeated season ends.


Sat. 12:00 pm: Austin Peay @ Murray State: Believe it or not, these may actually be the best two teams in the OVC. And this game is on ESPNU? Yes please.

Sat. 3:00 pm: Florida State @ Virginia Tech: I came into the season thinking that these two teams would fight with UNC for sole possession of second place in the ACC. While that still may very well turn out to be true, they certainly won’t be doing it as ranked teams. Both teams have their star — Malcolm Delaney for Virginia Tech, Chris Singleton for Florida State. It will be interesting to see who can stop who.

Sat. 3:30 pm: No. 9 UConn @ No. 12 Texas: Kemba Walker and UConn have come back down to earth. After a story book start to the season, the Huskies are now sitting at 1-2 in the Big East, with that one being an overtime win over South Florida. The good news is that some of UConn’s freshmen are starting to show flashes of how good they can be. But that has come, apparently, at the cost of Alex Oriakhi, a guy that will be so important for the Huskies on Saturday. Why is he so important? Because Tristan Thompson is slowly by surely developing into a star. That will be a fun matchup to watch, as will Dogus Balbay guarding Kemba and Jordan Hamilton going up against UConn’s slew of lanky wings.

Sat. 6:00 pm: Charleston @ Wofford: The SoCon is a very good conference this season, and these two clubs could very well be the two best in the league. Charleston landed themselves a BCS school when they blew out Tennessee in Knoxville last weekend. Wofford didn’t beat any of their high major opponents this season, but they did come close on a number of occasions. Noah Dahlman will be the best big man on the floor, but I don’t think anyone wants to play against Andrew Goudelock right now.

Sun. 12:00 pm: No. 25 Cincinnati @ No. 7 Villanova: The time is finally here. We get to see whether or not unbeaten Cincinnati is for real. Their win over Xavier in the Crosstown Shootout was impressive, but Xavier looks like a team that is going to miss the NCAA Tournament this season. Villanova may win the Big East if they can get Corey Fisher playing on the same level as Corey Stokes. My advice to the Bearcats — get the ball to Yancy Gates. The big guy needs to eat.

Sun. 2:00 pm: No. 21 Minnesota @ No. 2 Ohio State: The Gophers have had a tough start to Big Ten play, and it doesn’t get any easier Sunday as they head to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes. You know about OSU by now — Jared Sullinger is a player of the year candidate while the four guys on the court around him all understand and buy into their roles. Minnesota, however, has enough size that they should be able to give Sully some issues on the block. They will need a much better offensive performance than the one they had against Indiana, but if Minnesota can slow down the big fella, they have a good shot at this win.

Sun. 8:30 pm: Missouri State @ Wichita State: This one will be a dandy and will be televised on ESPNU. The Bears and the Shockers are both undefeated in the Valley and look like they are the two best teams in the conference. They play at a slower pace than the Big Ten, but one of these two will likely be dancing come March. Make sure you know who they are.



  • 7:00 pm: Cleveland State @ Butler: The best two teams in the Horizon League. And the favorite in the league may not be Butler.


  • 11:00 am: West Virginia @ No. 13 Georgetown: I will be at this game trying to determine what exactly is going on with the ‘Eers.
  • 12:00 pm: No. 4 Syracuse @ Seton Hall: The Orange play their first true road game of the season. In New Jersey.
  • 12:00 pm: UNC @ Virginia: The Tar Heels kick off their ACC season with a trip to Charlottesville. Can the Heels get it turned around this season?
  • 1:00 pm: No. 19 Michigan State @ Penn State: Kalin Lucas vs. Talor Battle will be fun to watch, as will practice on Monday if the Spartans lose.
  • 1:00 pm: No. 17 Kansas State @ Oklahoma State: The Cowboys are always tough in Gallagher-Iba, but with Pullen back and Judge playing like an all-american the last couple of games.
  • 1:30 pm: No. 8 Missouri @ Colorado: Colorado really needs a win, if for nothing else than to boost their confidence.
  • 1:30 pm: Tennessee @ Arkansas: Guess whose suspension is starting…?
  • 2:00 pm: George Mason @ Old Dominion: Before the season, I thought these two teams were the two best teams in the league.
  • 2:00 pm: Baylor @ Texas Tech: Can Baylor get a win on the road? The Bears are being flur
  • 3:00 pm: Air Force @ No. 14 BYU: Air Force has been much improved this season, but they are a long way from Jimmer territory.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 6 San Diego State @ Utah: SDSU’s second halves this season have been impressive. Their first halves? Not so much.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 16 Texas A&M @ Oklahoma: What’s the over-under on the number of Big XII games Oklahoma wins?
  • 4:00 pm: East Carolina @ No. 22 Memphis: Can the Tigers bounce back?
  • 4:00 pm: UTEP @ UAB: Randy Culpepper and Aaron Johnson are two of the most entertaining players in the country to watch.
  • 4:00 pm: Alabama @ Mississippi State: Who will Sidney fight on Saturday?
  • 4:00 pm: Richmond @ La Salle: Two of the best in the A-10 square off. Justin Harper going against Aaric Murray should draw the eyes of some NBA scouts.
  • 4:00 pm: Utah State @ Nevada: I had no idea Nevada, and the WAC in general, was going to be this bad this season.
  • 5:00 pm: No. 18 UCF @ Houston: Guess who is still undefeated.
  • 6:00 pm: LSU @ Auburn: The battle for the worst team in the SEC commences.
  • 6:30 pm: Stanford @ Arizona: Believe it or not, Stanford is in first place in the Pac-10. Stanford!
  • 6:30 pm: Oregon State @ Washington: And the Cardinal are tied with Washington. The Beavers fell back to earth against Wazzu on Thursday.
  • 8:00 pm: Ole Miss @ Florida: Chris Warren’s beared is worth watching this game on ESPN3 for.


  • 12:00 pm: Iowa @ No. 10 Purdue: Iowa may be better than we expected, but that doesn’t mean they can win at Mackey.
  • 12:00 pm: No. 23 Louisville @ South Florida: Gus Gilchrist quit the team and then came back. Did you even know?
  • 4:30 pm: No. 3 Kansas @ Michigan: At West Virginia, John Beilein won games like this all this time. He hasn’t been so fortunate at Michigan.
  • 7:00 pm: Indiana @ Northwestern: No one needs a win more than Northwestern right now.
  • 10:30 pm: UCLA @ USC: The two LA schools may actually be the second and third best teams in the Pac-10. This game has a lot more significance than it did at the start of the year.

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

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.