Wednesday’s slate and what to watch

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Hope Wisconsin basked in the glory of beating Ohio State the last three days. Now the Badgers get their own road test.

No. 11 Purdue plays host to No. 10 Wisconsin in Wednesday night’s biggest game. The winner gets to retain (some) hope of catching the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings. The loser falls to 9-4 in conference play and probably loses any chance of grabbing a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

How’s that for some pre-game build up? (6:30 p.m., BTN)

(For an added dose of symmetry, the Boilermakers play host to Ohio State on Sunday. Think of what those two victories would mean for Purdue.)

Georgetown at Connecticut, 7 p.m. (ESPN3): Few teams are hotter than the Hoyas, winners of eight straight, half of which have come on the road. The Huskies have had issues lately, losing three of their last five (coincidence that Kemba Walker’s in a shooting slump? Probably not.) I’m just hopeful we get to see a game with a finish this good.

Louisville at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (ESPN): The Cardinals are going to be a trendy darkhorse NCAA tournament team. They’ve beaten ‘Cuse, UConn and West Virginia and have given Georgetown and Notre Dame fits. Meanwhile, the Bearcats are just trying to stay off the bubble. This could be a prime time for Cincy to do just that.

Vanderbilt at Georgia, 7 p.m. (ESPNU): The winner improves to 7-4 in the SEC East – two games behind leader Florida. The loser? It gets weeks and weeks of bubble talk.

New Mexico at San Diego State, 10:30 p.m. (The Mtn.): For the Mountain West to be more than a two-bid league, a few things would need to happen. UNLV has to stop messing around, Colorado State and New Mexico could use a few more marquee wins. They don’t get much bigger for the Lobos than a trip to San Diego State.

Vermont at Maine, 7:30 p.m.: The Catamounts can clinch America East with a win tonight. If that happens, they’d be the first of the season. Just ahead of …

Saint Mary’s at San Diego, 11 p.m. (ESPN2): The Gaels haven’t wanted to talk about the possibility of a WCC title. Can’t say I blame ‘em. One win would clinch a share of their first crown since 1989 – and officially end Gonzaga’s stranglehold on the conference. There’s something to be said for focusing.

American U. at Army, 7 p.m.
Georgetown vs. Connecticut at the XL Center, Hartford, Conn., 7 p.m.
Binghamton at Hartford, 7 p.m.
Navy at Holy Cross, 7 p.m.
Bucknell at Lafayette, 7 p.m.
Colgate at Lehigh, 7 p.m.
Rider at Loyola, Md., 7 p.m.
Iona at Manhattan, 7 p.m.
Duquesne at Massachusetts, 7 p.m.
Canisius at Niagara, 7 p.m.
South Florida at Pittsburgh, 7 p.m.
Xavier at Saint Joseph’s, 7 p.m.
St. Peter’s at Siena, 7 p.m.
Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure, 7 p.m.
Marist at Fairfield, 7:30 p.m.
Vermont at Maine, 7:30 p.m.

Georgia Southern at Davidson, 7 p.m.
Morehead St. at E. Kentucky, 7 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Georgia, 7 p.m.
S. Virginia at Longwood, 7 p.m.
Rice at Marshall, 7 p.m.
UAB at Memphis, 7 p.m.
South Carolina at Tennessee, 7 p.m.
Duke at Virginia, 7 p.m.
Dayton at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Chattanooga at Georgia Tech, 7:30 p.m.
Auburn at Mississippi, 8 p.m.
Lamar at SE Louisiana, 8 p.m.
Wofford at Samford, 8 p.m.
UTEP at Southern Miss., 8 p.m.
UCF at Tulane, 8 p.m.

Wisconsin at Purdue, 6:30 p.m.
E. Michigan at Cent. Michigan, 7 p.m.
Louisville at Cincinnati, 7 p.m.
Youngstown St. at Detroit, 7 p.m.
Kent St. at Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m.
Cleveland St. at Wright St., 7 p.m.
Loyola of Chicago at Ill.-Chicago, 8 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at North Dakota, 8 p.m.
Murray St. at SE Missouri, 8 p.m.
Valparaiso at Wis.-Milwaukee, 8 p.m.
Illinois St. at Creighton, 8:05 p.m.
Indiana St. at S. Illinois, 8:05 p.m.
Michigan at Illinois, 8:30 p.m.

Florida A&M at Arkansas, 8 p.m.
SMU at Houston, 8 p.m.
Colorado St. at TCU, 8 p.m.
Iowa St. at Texas A&M, 8 p.m.
Stephen F.Austin at Texas-Arlington, 8 p.m.
McNeese St. at UTSA, 8 p.m.
East Carolina at Tulsa, 8:05 p.m.
Nebraska at Oklahoma, 9 p.m.
Oklahoma St. at Texas, 9 p.m.

E. Washington at N. Arizona, 8:35 p.m.
Idaho St. at Montana, 9 p.m.
Wyoming at Utah, 9 p.m.
Portland St. at Weber St., 9 p.m.
Montana Western at Utah St., 9:05 p.m.
Fresno St. at CS Bakersfield, 10 p.m.
CS Northridge at Cal Poly, 10 p.m.
UC Riverside at Long Beach St., 10 p.m.
UC Irvine at Pacific, 10 p.m.
Cal St.-Fullerton at UC Santa Barbara, 10 p.m.
New Mexico at San Diego St., 10:30 p.m.
Pepperdine at Loyola Marymount, 11 p.m.
Saint Mary’s, Calif. at San Diego, 11 p.m.

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

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.