Subtle changes throughout latest NCAA tourney projections

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source: AP

Fresh off a win at Baylor, the Missouri Tigers grab the final No. 1 seed this week and head West.  Kansas is this close behind as current leader of the Big 12.  As we wrote Sunday in an Inside the Bracket column at Bracketville, the current landscape for No. 1 seed options includes the aforementioned Tigers and Jayhawks, plus Baylor and Duke.  This week, it was a choice between Mizzou and KU.

Arguments could be made either way, and there’s no right or wrong answer.  Mizzou and KU still face each other twice, so this will be settled on the court – exactly how it should be.  Don’t assume Baylor is out of the picture either.  The Bears have re-matches with both the Jayhawks and Tigers. There’s also the Big 12 tournament.

With Duke’s loss to Florida State, the Blue Devils sit at No. 7 on the S-curve, sandwiched between Baylor (No. 6) and North Carolina (No. 8).  Those are your two seeds – along with Kansas – for the Jan. 23 bracket.

The bracket remains fairly fluid in the middle, which isn’t uncommon.  We had some interesting results the past eight days, and that trend is likely to continue. Conference play often provides an ebb and flow.  Same with those teams hovering around the cutline.  Bubble Banter will return in early February, and that figures to be quite an adventure.

This week’s Last 5 IN – St. Louis, NC State, Marshall, Iowa State, and Oregon.  The First 5 OUT – Stanford, Northwestern, BYU, Mississippi, Arkansas.

Not a lot of projected changes at the bottom of the bracket.  Nevada moves in as the representative from the WAC.  The Wolfpack would be a fringe at-large candidate and could stay there if they win the league in dominant fashion.  Time will tell.  Enjoy another great week of hoops.

UPDATED: Monday, January 23

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (UTEP, BYU, etc). Records are for games against Division I teams only.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Oregon (15-5) vs. Marshall (12-6) | West Region
  • NC State (15-5) vs. Iowa State (14-5) | Midwest Region
  • MISS VALLEY ST (7-11) vs. NC-ASHEVILLE (11-7) | Midwest Region
  • STONY BROOK (10-7) vs. UT-ARLINGTON (12-5) | East Region


EASTBoston SOUTHAtlanta
Pittsburgh Louisville
1) SYRACUSE (20-1) 1) KENTUCKY (19-1)
8) Gonzaga (16-3) 8) Illinois (15-5)
9) Alabama (13-6) 9) DAYTON (14-5)
Portland Nashville
5) San Diego State (15-2) 5) Virginia (15-3)
12) Minnesota (15-5) 12) DAVIDSON (13-4)
4) Kansas State (13-4) 4) West Virginia (13-5)
13) MID TENNESSEE ST (18-2) 13) IONA (15-4)
Columbus Columbus
6) Wichita State (16-3) 6) Indiana (16-4)
11) Memphis (12-6) 11) CALIFORNIA (16-5)
3) Michigan State (15-4) 3) Georgetown (15-3)
14) CLEVELAND STATE (16-4) 14) GEORGE MASON (15-5)
Greensboro Albuquerque
7) Cincinnati (15-5) 7) Florida State (13-6)
10) Temple (13-5) 10) SO. MISSISSIPPI (15-3)
2) North Carolina (16-3) 2) Baylor (16-2)
15) BUCKNELL (14-6) 15) BELMONT (12-7)
MIDWEST – St. Louis WEST – Phoenix
Pittsburgh Omaha
1) OHIO STATE (17-3) 1) Missouri (18-1)
8) ST. MARY’S (16-2) 8) Florida (15-4)
9) Louisville (15-5) 9) Purdue (14-6)
Louisville Nashville
5) MURRAY STATE (17-0) 5) Marquette (16-4)
12) NC State / Iowa State 12) St. Louis (13-4)
4) Vanderbilt (14-5) 4) Mississippi State (15-4)
13) ORAL ROBERTS (18-4) 13) Oregon / Marshall
Portland Albuquerque
6) Seton Hall (14-3) 6) Michigan (14-5)
11) New Mexico (14-4) 11) UCF (14-4)
3) CREIGHTON (18-2) 3) UNLV (16-3)
14) NEVADA (14-3) 14) LONG BEACH ST (12-6)
Omaha Greensboro
7) Wisconsin (16-5) 7) Connecticut (14-5)
10) HARVARD (15-2) 10) Xavier (13-6)
2) KANSAS (16-3) 2) DUKE (16-3)
15) WEBER STATE (13-3) 15) AKRON (11-7)

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kentucky is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Syracuse, Ohio State, and Missouri. Next in line are Kansas, Baylor, Duke, North Carolina.

Last Five teams in (at large): St. Louis, NC State, Marshall, Iowa State, Oregon

First Five teams out (at large): Stanford, Northwestern, BYU, Mississippi, Arkansas

Next Five teams out (at large): Notre Dame, Ohio, Oklahoma, Colorado State, LSU

Bracket adjustments: Minnesota and California switch seed lines to avoid conference conflicts.

Here is the team breakdown by Conference …

Big Ten (8): Ohio State, Michigan State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota

Big East (8): Syracuse, Georgetown, Louisville, Connecticut, Marquette, West Virginia, Seton Hall, Cincinnati

SEC (5): Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Alabama

ACC (5): North Carolina, Duke, Virginia, Florida State, NC State

Big 12 (5): Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State

Atlantic 10 (4): Xavier, St. Louis, Dayton, Temple

Conference USA (4): Memphis, Southern Mississippi, UCF, Marshall

Mountain West (3): UNLV, San Diego State, New Mexico

West Coast (2): Gonzaga, St. Mary’s

Pac 12 (2): California, Oregon

Missouri Valley (2): Creighton, Wichita State

Sun Belt (1): Middle Tennessee State

Conference leaders/champions … Cleveland State (Horizon), Akron (MAC), George Mason (CAA), Nevada (WAC), Murray State (OVC), Iona (MAAC), Weber State (Big Sky), Davidson (Southern), Oral Roberts (Summit), Long Beach State (Big West), Long Island (NEC), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Harvard (Ivy), NC-Asheville (Big South), Norfolk State (MEAC), Bucknell (Patriot), Stony Brook (America East), UT-Arlington(Southland), Mississippi Valley State (SWAC)

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.