10 Takeaways from Saturday’s games

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The Super Bowl must be near because college basketball’s in full swing. There were 150 games between D-I teams Saturday, featuring everything from a conference scoring record to a football school turning the Tide.

Keep track of the biggest stories with our 10 Takeaways.

Alabama’s now a football school: Just kidding. But the Tide has already managed to exceed its SEC win total from last season by winning at Tennessee in OT. Now more nagging on the SEC West as the Tide have wins against the East’s top teams. ‘Bama is now 15-7 overall and boasts a glittering 7-1 record in the SEC, its best start since ’02 when it also won the league. As an added bonus, Florida cemented its place atop the East division by beating Kentucky. Who says you can’t be a football and basketball school?

Does Kansas need Josh Selby? The highly touted freshman sat out the Jayhawks’ impressive 86-66 win at Nebraska, in which they hit a season-high 13 3-pointers and improved to 22-1 overall and 7-1 in the Big 12. (League leader Texas also won.) Selby entered the game as the team’s most accurate shooter beyond the arc, but senior Brady Morningstar caught fire for a season-high 19 points. Will Selby’s role get reduced in light of one game?

The Jimmer can’t be stopped: BYU scoring sensation Jimmer Fredette put up 29 points in a 78-64 win vs. UNLV, which broke the MWC scoring record set by SDSU’s Brandon Heath in 2007. Fredette – now at 2,194 points – was a perfect 16 of 16 from the free-throw line. For good measure, he also had seven assists.

Big East, big drama: No. 13 Georgetown survived 43 points by Marshon Brooks to beat Providence 83-81. No. 15 Louisville nearly blew it against DePaul. And No. 6 UConn endured another rough-shooting night from Kemba Walker (19 points on 7-of-19- shooting) to rally past Seton Hall, 61-59. But it wasn’t all bad in the league. League leader Pitt rolled, ‘Nova crushed West Virginia and Syracuse established a two game win streak with a resounding win over South Florida. Take that, Internet rumors!

Washington’s bumpy road: The No. 20 Huskies (15-7, 7-4) could accept a loss at in-state rival Washington State. But getting swept by the Oregon schools? That’ll cast serious doubt on what should be the Pac-10’s best team. All four of the Huskies’ conference losses have come on the road. Adding to their woes was Arizona’s triple-OT win vs. Cal, putting the Wildcats two games ahead in the standings.

Perfect dreams dashed: Oakland (Mich.) was rolling through its Summit League slate until it forgot how to play defense against IUPUI, which hit 56.5 percent of its shots in a 100-88 win. That leaves Texas, Ohio State, Coastal Carolina, Princeton and Utah State as the only remaining teams with unbeaten conference record. The Grizzlies (17-9, 12-1) still hold a three-game conference lead, but probably lost any shot of an at-large NCAA tournament bid.

The Patriots are coming! George Mason is rolling. The Patriots (19-5, 11-2) crushed CAA rival Old Dominion, 62-45, their ninth straight win. At this rate, both Mason and VCU (its CAA co-leader) could give the conference its first multi-bid year since 2006. You remember what happened in 2006, right?

The Zags are not: Gonzaga hasn’t missed the NCAA tournament since 1998. Yet after a 62-58 home loss to Memphis on Saturday, the Bulldogs are now 15-9 overall and won’t sniff the Big Dance unless they win the WCC tournament. Who would’ve guessed this was the year Mark Few’s program experienced a hug hiccup?

The Butler did it (again): Cleveland State may very well win the Horizon League, but reigning champ Butler has the Vikings’ number. The Bulldogs (15-9, 7-5) ended Cleveland State’s six-game winning streak, but probably didn’t do much to boost their chances of an at-large NCAA tournament bid. It’s conference tournament or bust.

Atlantic 10 gets tighter: Just when it seemed Duquesne couldn’t lose, it did. The Dukes suffered their first loss in the last 12 games by falling to St. Bonaventure, dropping them into a tie with Xavier. Not that it was easy for the Musketeers (16-6, 8-1, who needed a late rally against St. Louis. Right behind them are Temple (17-5, 7-2) and Richmond (18-6, 7-2).  

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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

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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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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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.