Memphis leaves Big Dance bubble; who’s still sweating?

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One day until Selection Sunday and we still have some unanswered questions.  Here’s the latest bubble update through 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, including Memphis’ thrilling comeback win over UTEP in the Conference USA title game.

Bubble Banter highlights the teams we believe are on the NCAA Bubble. If a team isn’t listed, they aren’t a bubble team at the time of the update. RPI and SOS data is credited to CollegeRPI.com.

UPDATED: Saturday, March 12 | 1:15 p.m. ET

Automatic Bids (14): UNC-Ashville (Big South), Morehead State (OVC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Indiana State (MVC), Butler (Horizon), Wofford (Southern), Arkansas Little Rock (Sun Belt), Gonzaga (West Coast), Memphis (C-USA) Old Dominion (Colonial), Oakland (Summit), St. Peter’s (MAAC), Long Island (NEC), Northern Colorado (Big Sky), Bucknell (Patriot)

Total Spots (68): Number of total teams in the Field.

  • Projected Locks (29): Teams who project to have secured a spot in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
  • Should Be In (7): These teams are teams in solid position to receive an at-large bid.
  • Bubble: (23): Teams projected to be at or near the cutline for being selected as at-large candidates.
  • Spots available (8): Number of projected available openings for the bracket.
  • Leaving the Bubble: Colorado State, Memphis, Washington State
  • Joining the Bubble: None
  • RPI and SOS: RPI and SOS data are updated through 1:00 p.m. ET on March 12.
Atlantic 10
Locks: Xavier, Temple | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Richmond
  • Richmond (25-7 | 14-3) | RPI: 56 | SOS: 141 | – The Spiders closed with 10 wins in 12 games – their only losses to Xavier and Temple. The win over Purdue continues to be a major helping point, and a victory over VCU is looking better again. Because the Spiders suffered lopsided losses against Xavier and Temple in their regular-season meetings, do they need to beat one of them in the A-10 tournament? We’ll see. Today’s matchup with Temple could be huge.
ACC
Locks: Duke, North Carolina | Should Be In: Florida State | Bubble: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech
  • Boston College (20-12 | 10-8) | RPI:58 | SOS: 38 | – BC ended its season with a lopsided loss to Clemson. Highlights are an early win over Texas AM and a sweep of Virginia Tech. Lowlights are a 1-8 mark vs. Top 50 teams, plus a home loss to Yale. Eagles have 7 Top 100 wins, but four of those are VT and Maryland. It’s going to be a long wait until Sunday night.
  • Clemson (21-10 | 10-7) | RPI: 53 | SOS: 72 | – The Tigers rolled over BC Friday and into the ACC semis. The victory also gave Clemson a sweep of Boston College – for what it’s worth. The Tigers may still have work to do. Their best win is Florida State and they are 1-6 vs. Top 50 RPI teams. Up next is North Carolina – the type of marquee win the Tigers lack. Outside the ACC, Clemson’s best win is Charleston. They do have 9 Top 100 wins, but that can sometimes be deceiving. Clemson has losses to Old Dominion, Michigan, and South Carolina to go along with hiccups against NC State and Virginia.
  • Virginia Tech (21-10 | 11-7) | RPI: 64 | SOS: 86 | – Beating Florida State Friday was a must. Now, the Hokies get another shot at Duke. Do they need it? Will be a close call. Beating the Blue Devils would probably secure it. The Hokies entered the ACC Tournament squarely on the cutline and continue to hover. Besides Duke, the Hokies beat Florida State twice, plus have a win over Penn State. Being swept by Boston College and losing their only game to Clemson are concerns. They were also swept by Virginia, lost at Georgia Tech, and are 4-6 in true road games. VT is 2-4 vs. the Top 50 and 8-7 vs. the Top 100.
BIG EAST
Locks: Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova, Louisville, St. John’s West Virginia, Cincinnati | Should Be In: Marquette | Bubble: None
 
BIG 10
Locks: Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Illinois, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State
  • Illinois (19-13 | 9-10) | RPI: 46| SOS: 16 | – The Illini blew a lead on Michigan and bowed out in their first Big Ten tournament game. While the general feeling is the Illini will make it, their outlook would have been more solid with a second win over the Wolverines. Good wins include N. Carolina, at Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Michigan State. Down the stretch, however, Illinois went 5-7 in its last 12 games. Strong SOS numbers and 11 Top 100 wins are a plus. The loss at UIC is a major sore point – along with a loss at Indiana.
  • Michigan State (18-13 | 11-9) | RPI: 38 | SOS: 9 | The Spartans made a statement by pounding Purdue Friday night and certainly helped their case. Next is Penn State; the Lions may need one more to stay in the bracket. MSU is hoping its strong SOS will be rewarded; we’ve seen it in the past. The Spartans are just 5-12 vs. Top 50 teams, but 10-12 vs. the Top 100. They are 15-13 vs. the Top 200. MSU might be able to absorb a loss to PSU, but it’s hard to move the Spartans completely off the bubble. Maybe by tonight.
  • Michigan (19-12 | 10-9) | RPI: 48 | SOS: 17 | Michigan played well down the stretch and rallied to beat Illinois Friday afternoon in Indy. Thanks to Clemson’s surge, the Wolverines have 5 Top 50 wins at the moment and may very well have played themselves in. Next up is Ohio State. Find a way to beat the Buckeyes and any doubts will end. Outside the league, Michigan’s best win is at Clemson, although they did beat Harvard at home. In the Big 10, Michigan swept Michigan State and Penn State. Their only “bad” loss was at Indiana in early January.
  • Penn State (18-13 | 11-9) | RPI: 42 | SOS: 5 | The Nittany Lions staved off elimination by beating Indiana Thursday and then upset Wisconsin Friday night in a low-scoring game. Penn State has three solid victories at home (Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan State) to go along with a second win over the Badgers. The Lions are a 3-8 on the road – which could still be a problem. Despite a solid SOS, PSU’s best non-conference victories are Fairfield and Duquesne. Will that be a factor? Plus, they lost at Virginia Tech. They are 4-9 vs. the Top 50 and 9-12 vs. the Top 100.
BIG 12
Locks: Kansas, Texas, Texas AM, Missouri, Kansas State | Should Be In: None | Bubble: Colorado
  • Colorado (20-13 | 10-9) | RPI: 65 | SOS: 47 | – Beating Kansas State for a third time may be enough to push – and keep – Colorado in the Field of 68. But given their no-show in non-conference play (No. 323 SOS), we can’t take the Buffaloes off the bubble. CU lost to Georgia and New Mexico, along with three sub-100 RPI losses (San Francisco, Oklahoma, Iowa State). The big upside is an 8-10 mark vs. the Top 100 including a win over Texas.
MOUNTAIN WEST
Locks: BYU, San Diego State, UNLV | Should Be In: None | Bubble: New Mexico
  • New Mexico (20-12 | 9-8) | RPI: 66 | SOS: 77 | – The Lobos made a strong surge to close the season, but will probably fall a bit short after losing to BYU in the Mountain West semis. Yes, the Lobos beat BYU twice and Colorado outside the league, but UNM’s non-conference SOS (No. 255) is still a problem. UNM is 5-8 vs. the Top 100
PAC 10
Locks: Arizona | Should Be In: UCLA, Washington | Bubble: USC
  • USC (19-14 | 11-9) | RPI: 67 | SOS: 39 | – Credit the Trojans for making a late charge. USC piled up some solid wins (Texas early and at Tennessee included), but they also have 6 sub-100 RPI losses – including 3 sub-200 losses (TCU, Oregon State, Bradley). They were also swept by Oregon. Such a high number of bad losses – throughout the season – will probably keep USC a little short. How Selection Committee members view the information remains to be seen.
SEC
Locks: Florida, Kentucky, Vanderbilt | Should Be In: Tennessee | Bubble: Georgia, Alabama
  • Georgia (21-12 | 10-8) | RPI: 45 | SOS: 40 | – Losing to Alabama a second time doesn’t help, but Georgia has one big advantage on other bubble teams – no bad RPI losses. Of their 11 losses, 9 came to teams ranked 35 or higher in the RPI. Outside the league, Georgia beat Colorado but lost to Xavier and Temple. Georgia isn’t safe, but their profile isn’t that much different than Marquette’s. If the Committee gives Marquette credit for “good” losses, they have to do the same for Georgia, right? The Bulldogs non-conference slate is slightly better, too.
  • Alabama (21-10 | 13-4) | RPI: 77 | SOS: 127 | – What will the Selection Commitee do with Alabama? That’s a big topic of debate. After rallying to beat Georgia a second time, Alabama has 13 SEC wins – including Kentucky and at Tennessee. Outside the SEC, Alabama’s profile is very questionable – and could be why the Tide still need another win over Kentucky to stay in the field. Their non-conference SOS ranks No. 283 and the Tide’s best non-league win is Lipscomb. They also have early losses to Iowa and Seton Hall.
BEST OF THE REST
Locks: NONE | Should Be In: George Mason, Old Dominion | Bubble: Missouri State, Memphis, UAB, St. Mary’s, Utah State
  • Missouri State (25-8 | 17-4) | RPI: 41 | SOS: 125 | – Long wait coming up for the Bears who lost to Indiana State in the finals of the MVC tournament. With no Top 50 wins and just a 3-6 mark vs. the Top 100, Missouri State has to hope the Selection Committee values an outright MVC regular season title. Odds aren’t promising, given the current bubble situation.
  • UAB (22-7 | 12-5) | RPI: 30 | SOS: 79 | – UAB finished early than hoped after losing in the C-USA quarterfinals to East Carolina. The Blazers ended with a regular-season C-USA title, but an 0-4 mark vs. Top 50 teams. UAB did beat VCU and has a host of mid-level wins against league teams. Will that be enough with a 9-5 road record? Being swept by Memphis won’t help. Like Missouri State, the Blazers may come up just short.
  • VCU (23-11 | 14-7) | RPI: 51 | SOS: 86 | – VCU rallied to beat Drexel and then upset George Mason in the CAA tournament, but fell short in the title game with Old Dominion. The Rams have a neutral-court win over UCLA and also won at Wichita State in the BracketBuster. VCU is 3-5 vs. the Top 50 and 8-8 vs. the Top 100. A loss at UAB could come into play. Has VCU done enough? It could depend on how other bubble teams perform.
  • St. Mary’s (23-8 | 12-4) | RPI: 44 | SOS: 99 | – The Gaels lost to Gonzaga in the WCC title game and now have an anxious wait until Selection Sunday. An early win over St. John’s helps, and St. Mary’s split with Gonzaga in the regular season. The rest of the resume is light, however, (1-4 vs. Top 50 teams and 3-6 vs. the Top 100). A home loss to Utah State could also pose a problem. In an interesting note, SMC beat Weber State Friday to end its season.
  • Utah State (28-3 | 16-1) | RPI: 18 | SOS: 123 | – The Aggies thoroughly dominated the WAC and may very well have done enough. Still, with a very light 2-2 mark vs. Top 100 teams – and one of those being Long Beach State (No. 86) – we can’t assume USU is a lock. Only thing left for USU is beating Boise State in the WAC final – thus erasing any concerns.

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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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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.