Wednesday’s slate and what to watch

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Odds are Thomas Robinson will be able to blow kisses to the Kansas crowd again tonight.

The Jayhawks haven’t lost to their in-state rivals in Allen Fieldhouse since 2006 and despite K-States 11-1 start, are favored to extend that streak Wednesday night. Ever since their Dec. 19 loss to Davidson, Bill Self’s squad has won three games by an average of 41 points.

Yes, those Ws came against USC, Howard and North Dakota, but for a team that’s still seeking some offensive consistency and trying to avoid defensive lapses, those were three prime games to work out the kinks. Now we’ll see if it worked.

(All times ET; TV info courtesy of HDSportsGuide.com)

Kansas State at Kansas, 8 p.m. (Big 12 HD, Altitude2)
So. About Frank Martin’s team. If not for Georgetown, the Wildcats would go down as the nation’s surprise team. They lost their top two players (including star guard Jacob Pullen) and haven’t missed a beat thanks to their ferocious defense and some solid offensive production by Rodney McGruber and Will Spradling. Winning in Lawrence would be the biggest boost of all.

Marquette at Georgetown, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Excluding Syracuse, are these the Big East’s best teams? The Hoyas (12-1) haven’t lost since a Nov. 21 neutral court matchup against Kansas. Henry Sims, Jason Clark and Hollis Thompson are yet another potent trio for JTIII, though their defense also deserves some props. As for the Warriors, they’re lost two of their last four, though they were on the road (LSU) and against a team with Top 10 talent (Vandy). These are two of the game’s elite offenses.

Duke at Temple, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
Last non-conference tune-up for the Devils (12-1), who probably shouldn’t treat it as such. (Look at me! I’m captain obvious!) They’ve settled on a point guard method, but they’ll be better off if they just focus on guarding the Owls on the perimeter. Temple (9-3) shoots 39 percent from beyond the arc and chucks one in every three shots from there.

Georgia State at VCU, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Any other night, this game gets top billing. But hey, the CAA’s used to being undervalued. Winner has inside track to conference title and possibly an at-large bid.

Notre Dame at Cincinnati, 7 p.m. (Big East Network, FS Ohio)
The Bearcats (11-3) have won six straight since their brawl with Xavier, but this marks the return of center Yancy Gates, who sat out the last six because of a suspension. Do they stick with a four-guard lineup and bring Gates off the bench? Surround him with those four guards? Go to a more traditional three guards, two big men?

St. Louis at Dayton, 8 p.m. (WHIO-TV, CW11)
The Billikens (12-2) dropped their last non-conference game (at New Mexico) in a game that might’ve been a sterner test than anything they’ll face in A-10 play (ducks the angry Xavier mob). Dayton (10-4) won’t have forward John Benson, who’s out after a season-ending knee injury. Tough break for first-year coach Archie Miller.

EAST
Xavier at La Salle, 6 p.m.
Columbia at Colgate, 7 p.m.
Hofstra at Delaware, 7 p.m.
Towson at Drexel, 7 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s at Duquesne, 7 p.m.
Marquette at Georgetown, 7 p.m.
Penn at Lafayette, 7 p.m.
UNC Wilmington at Northeastern, 7 p.m.
West Virginia at Rutgers, 7 p.m.
George Washington at St. Bonaventure, 7 p.m.
Duke at Temple, 7 p.m.
Syracuse at Providence, 9 p.m.

SOUTH
SC-Upstate at ETSU, 7 p.m.
Auburn at Florida St., 7 p.m.
Florida Gulf Coast at Kennesaw St., 7 p.m.
Delaware St. at NC State, 7 p.m.
George Mason at Old Dominion, 7 p.m.
Tulane at UCF, 7 p.m.
James Madison at William & Mary, 7 p.m.
Belmont at Jacksonville, 7:15 p.m.
Richmond at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Coppin St. at Howard, 7:30 p.m.
Stetson at Mercer, 7:30 p.m.
Georgia St. at VCU, 7:30 p.m.
Lipscomb at North Florida, 7:45 p.m.
UTEP at Marshall, 8 p.m.
Tennessee at Memphis, 8 p.m.
E. Kentucky at Murray St., 8 p.m.
East Carolina at Southern Miss., 8 p.m.

MIDWEST
Florida A&M at Ball St., 7 p.m.
Notre Dame at Cincinnati, 7 p.m.
Illinois at Northwestern, 7 p.m.
S. Illinois at Bradley, 8 p.m.
Saint Louis at Dayton, 8 p.m.
Kansas St. at Kansas, 8 p.m.
Indiana St. at N. Iowa, 8 p.m.
Mayville St. at North Dakota, 8 p.m.
E. Illinois at SIU-Edwardsville, 8 p.m.
Wichita St. at Evansville, 8:05 p.m.
Illinois St. at Missouri St., 8:05 p.m.
Texas at Iowa St., 9 p.m.
Iowa at Minnesota, 9 p.m.

SOUTHWEST
Tulsa at Houston, 8 p.m.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma St., 8 p.m.
Rice at TCU, 8 p.m.
Lamar at Texas A&M-CC, 8 p.m.
Stephen F. Austin at Texas St., 8 p.m.
SE Louisiana at Texas-Arlington, 8 p.m.
Nicholls St. at UTSA, 8 p.m.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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.