Wednesday’s Shootaround: Big road win for Michigan

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No. 22 Michigan 66, Purdue 64: The Wolverines picked up a huge win on the road against the Boilermakers, hanging on for the win after Purdue missed two good looks from three in the final minute. One of those looks came off the hands of Robbie Hummel with 12 seconds left in the game. Making this win all the more impressive is that the Wolverines did it despite getting just a mediocre performance out of Trey Burke. Tim Hardaway, Jr., didn’t exactly snap out of his shooting slump, but he did score 19 points to pace the Wolverines.

The enormity of this win cannot be understated for Michigan. Believe it or not, while this boosts them to 6-2 in Big Ten play and all alone in first place, it is also their first win on the road on the season. And while Purdue may not be the kind of powerhouse that they have been the past two seasons, this is still a tough team to beat in their arena. More than anything, Michigan needed this confidence heading into the stretch run. They have ten games left on their schedule. Six of them are away from Ann Arbor.

That said, confidence alone isn’t going to help them at Ohio State with first place on the line.

No. 12 San Diego State 52, Wyoming 42: SDSU further proved their merit in the MWC by going into Laramie and knocking off Wyoming. The win itself is pretty impressive considering how improved the Cowboys are this season. But once you factor in that the Aztecs were stranded in an airport in Utah for 20 hours because of snow, it become just that much more noteworthy. Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley had 12 points each.

Texas 62, Iowa State 55: At this point, any win that Texas can get is a big win. Coming off of three straight losses — to Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri — and with J’Covan Brown mired in a slump (he was 3-16 on Tuesday night), Texas couldn’t afford to drop this game to Iowa State, a fellow bubble-dweller. Myck Kabongo led the way with 13 points, but it was defense that won this game. ISU shot just 33.3% from the floor. Of note: Royce White is really, really good. He finished this game with 15 points, 15 boards and five assists.

Vanderbilt 65, Tennessee 47: It wasn’t pretty, especially in the second half, but Vanderbilt got a win they were supposed to get in the way that they were supposed to get it. Jeff Taylor had 15 of his team-high 23 points in the first half as the ‘Dores jumped out to a 30-10 lead. Tennessee never really made it interesting. It is noteworthy, however, that Vandy didn’t back down when Tennessee tried to turn this game into a slugfest. That’s a good sign for a team that isn’t exactly known for their toughness. Vandy is now 5-1 in the SEC with a two-game lead in the win column over Florida while sitting one game behind Kentucky.

No. 1 Kentucky 57, Georgia 44: I continue to have concerns about Kentucky’s inability to put together a complete game. There isn’t much doubt, in my mind, who the most talented team in the country is. And if I were forced to put everything that I own on one team winning the national title, odds are good that I’d have my money on the Wildcats. But the fact that they were only able to manage 57 points against Georgia — and only 19 in the second half — is a concern, one that we’ve come across before. Maybe I am being too demanding, but before I can get to a point where I am truly excited about what this team is capable of, I need to see it.

No. 7 Baylor 77, Oklahoma 65: I think all you need to know about the issues involving Baylor are this: after struggling against Missouri at home, Perry Jones III finally showed up, going for 21 points and 12 boards at Oklahoma. Take that as you will.

Marquette 67, South Florida 47: You want to know how wacky the Big East is this season? The winner of this game moved into a tie with Georgetown for second place in the league. With the loss, USF is tied for fifth with Cincinnati. That’s not a typo, either. None of it is.

Miami 64, Georgia Tech 49: After a 21 points, eight rebounds performance against the Yellow Jackets, Kenny Kadji has now scored in double figures in 10 of the last 11 games. He has four double-doubles in that span. Want to hear a weird stat? In the seven games that he hasn’t recorded a double-double, only twice has he gotten more than three rebounds. All or nothing.

The MAC: There were a couple of key games tonight among contenders in both divisions. Akron improved to 5-1 in league play with a 70-58 win over Ball State, dropping the Cardinals to 4-2. Buffalo knocked off Eastern Michigan 65-47, which further muddled the top of the league as both teams are now 4-2 in the conference. As it stands now, Akron is all alone in first place in the east with Buffalo a game behind them and Ohio lurking at 3-2 in the conference. In the west, Ball State and Eastern Michigan are both 4-2 with Western Michigan sitting just a game back in the win column.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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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

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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.