Thursday’s slate and what to watch

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North Carolina’s post-Dexter Strickland time starts tonight, against a team Roy Williams doesn’t particularly like.

Sounds like a good time to be Mark Gottfried. His team can make a splash on national TV, something N.C. State had been missing the last four years.

(All times ET; TV info from HDSportsGuide.com)

North Carolina State at North Carolina, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
The Wolfpack (15-5) have quietly emerged as an ACC contender thanks to their efficient play through five games (they weren’t exactly the cream of the ACC crop, but what is lately, anyway?). They’ve won nine of their last 10, they’ve been running (second-fastest team in ACC) and they’ve been scoring. It should make for an offensive-centric game tonight, given the Heels no longer have a strong perimeter defender without Strickland. Doesn’t mean UNC is less dangerous, though. More playing time for guys like Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston may slightly hurt the defense, but it’s a huge boost to the offense. Kendall Marshall may have 12 assists.

Indiana at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
The other “big” game of the night, mostly because the winner stays relevant in the Big Ten title race. The loser will get to focus on avoiding any bubble issues. The Hoosiers (16-4) are just .500 in their last eight games, but did beat Penn State by 19 over the weekend. But Wisconsin has the edge here, both for the home court and how its playing. The Badgers (16-5) have won four straight, just won at Illinois and have seemingly managed to resurrect what seemed to be a moribund offense

South Dakota State at Oakland, 7 p.m. (FS Detroit)
SD State (16-5) is trying to keep pace with Summit-leader Oral Roberts and better come out gunning against the Grizzlies to do so. Oakland (11-11) loves to run (72 possessions a game), score and has one of the game’s best players in Reggie Hamilton, who’s among the nation’s leaders in scoring in assists. Not that the Jackrabbits’ Nate Wolters is a slouch …

Butler at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
The Panthers (13-8) have dropped two straight and are trying to avoid a season sweep by the Bulldogs (12-9), who have won seven of their last nine and have been boosted by the consistent play of guard Roosevelt Jones. If Butler can take both of its Wisconsin games the next two days, it’ll be important to keep an eye on Brad Stevens’ team going forward.

Florida at Ole Miss, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
A solid back-up option if the Heels end up blowing out the Wolfpack or you don’t get FS Detroit. Billy Donovan’s team has been brutally slow during SEC play (61.6 possessions a game!), but the Gators still score as well as anyone in the nation.

EAST
Fairleigh Dickinson at Bryant, 7 p.m.
Monmouth (NJ) at CCSU, 7 p.m.
Navy at Lehigh, 7 p.m.
Mount St. Mary’s at Quinnipiac, 7 p.m.
St. Peter’s at Rider, 7 p.m.
LIU at Robert Morris, 7 p.m.
Wagner at Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.
St. Francis (NY) at St. Francis (Pa.), 7 p.m.

SOUTH
Davidson at Chattanooga, 7 p.m.
Furman at Coll. of Charleston, 7 p.m.
Tennessee Tech at E. Kentucky, 7 p.m.
W. Kentucky at FAU, 7 p.m.
Campbell at Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m.
Fresno St. at Louisiana Tech, 7 p.m.
Florida at Mississippi, 7 p.m.
NC State at North Carolina, 7 p.m.
Coastal Carolina at Presbyterian, 7 p.m.
VMI at Radford, 7 p.m.
High Point at UNC Asheville, 7 p.m.
Appalachian St. at UNC Greensboro, 7 p.m.
Elon at W. Carolina, 7 p.m.
Liberty at Winthrop, 7 p.m.
Wofford at The Citadel, 7:05 p.m.
E. Illinois at Jacksonville St., 8 p.m.
William & Mary at James Madison, 8 p.m.
Troy at Middle Tennessee, 8 p.m.
Georgia Southern at Samford, 8 p.m.
Tennessee St. at UT-Martin, 8 p.m.
Boston College at Virginia, 9 p.m.

MIDWEST
N. Dakota St. at IPFW, 7 p.m.
Nebraska at Iowa, 7 p.m.
S. Dakota St. at Oakland, 7 p.m.
Valparaiso at Green Bay, 8 p.m.
Butler at Milwaukee, 8 p.m.
NJIT at North Dakota, 8 p.m.
Austin Peay at SE Missouri, 8 p.m.
Indiana at Wisconsin, 9 p.m.

SOUTHWEST
South Alabama at UALR, 8 p.m.
South Dakota at Oral Roberts, 8:05 p.m.

FAR WEST
Washington at Arizona St., 8:30 p.m.
Arkansas St. at Denver, 9 p.m.
Nevada at New Mexico St., 9 p.m.
UMKC at S. Utah, 9 p.m.
Montana at E. Washington, 9:05 p.m.
N. Colorado at Idaho St., 9:05 p.m.
Hawaii at Utah St., 9:05 p.m.
Chicago St. at Utah Valley, 9:05 p.m.
Saint Mary’s (Cal) at Loyola Marymount, 10 p.m.
Cal Poly at Pacific, 10 p.m.
Pepperdine at San Diego, 10 p.m.
San Francisco at Santa Clara, 10 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara at UC Davis, 10 p.m.
Long Beach St. at UC Riverside, 10 p.m.
Cal St.-Fullerton at CS Northridge, 10:05 p.m.
San Jose St. at Idaho, 10:05 p.m.
Montana St. at Portland St., 10:05 p.m.
Weber St. at Sacramento St., 10:05 p.m.
Washington St. at Arizona, 10:30 p.m.
Colorado at Southern Cal, 10:30 p.m.
Utah at UCLA, 10:30 p.m.
Gonzaga at Portland, 11 p.m.

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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.