Wednesday’s slate and what to watch

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About 10 games remain in most teams’ Conference USA schedule, but the regular-season champion could come down to tonight’s Memphis-Southern Mississippi game.

How’s that for something different?

The Golden Eagles (19-3, 6-1 in C-USA) rarely have a season like this. They’ve been to two NCAA tournaments, won the NIT once (back in ‘87) and haven’t been a player in C-USA since it joined. Last year began promising, but they dropped four of their last seven regular-season games.

But Southern Miss has found its niche thanks to an offense that takes care of the ball, shoots the 3 well and hits the offensive glass. The defense can be soft, but it’s been good enough. It’ll have its hands full tonight, though.

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

Memphis at Southern Miss, 8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
The Tigers (15-6, 6-1) won the earlier meeting between the two and feature the league’s best player in sophomore Will Barton (18.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg). The 6-6 wing dumped 29 points on Marshall last weekend as Memphis won for the ninth time in the last 10 games. If there’s a bright side for the Eagles, it’s that the Tigers’ depth took a hit when freshmen forward Adonis Thomas went down with a knee injury two weeks ago. Maybe that’ll be the opening that helps Southern Miss snap its 18-game losing streak to Memphis.

Indiana at Michigan, 6:30 p.m. (BTN)
Two teams with vastly different styles – the Hoosiers (17-5) love to run, get it inside to Cody Zeller and hustle for points anywhere it can; the Wolverines (16-6) play slower, shoot a lot of 3s and rely on guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway – vie in what could be the best game of the night. Winner gets to stay in the Big Ten race.

Connecticut at Georgetown, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
UConn (14-6) got freshman Ryan Boatright back for Sunday’s game against Notre Dame, but it didn’t help. So the Huskies will tweak the starting lineup, plugging Boatright and forward Roscoe Smith in place of Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi. Will it be enough to steal one from the Hoyas (16-4), one of the season’s most consistent teams?

Wichita State at Missouri State, 8 p.m. (COX-Kansas)
Tough game for the Shockers (18-4, 9-2 in Missouri Valley) who are one game behind Creighton in the MVC standings. (Then again, every road game in the Valley is tough.) The Bears (13-10) are the only MVC team who’s beaten Creighton and feature all-league everything Kyle Weems.

Baylor at Texas A&M, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Bears (19-2) have won at tougher places (BYU, Northwestern) and beaten better teams (SDSU, West Virginia, St. Mary’s) this season, but there’s a certain amount of pause related to this game. The Aggies (12-8) have been one of the season’s biggest disappointments, but have played better the last three games. Beware, Bears.

Colorado State at UNLV, 10:30 p.m. (the mtn)
If you thought the Rams (14-6) would give SDSU its first conference loss, take a bow. And stop lying. Now, if you think they’ll win at UNLV (20-3), you’re nuts. But I have to admit … I’m intrigued.

EAST
UMBC at Albany (NY), 7 p.m.
Vermont at Boston U., 7 p.m.
Ball St. at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
George Mason at Delaware, 7 p.m.
Xavier at George Washington, 7 p.m.
UConn at Georgetown, 7 p.m.
Towson at Hofstra, 7 p.m.
Charlotte at La Salle, 7 p.m.
Colgate at NJIT, 7 p.m.
Hartford at New Hampshire, 7 p.m.
Drexel at Northeastern, 7 p.m.
Rutgers at Providence, 7 p.m.
UMass at Rhode Island, 7 p.m.
Binghamton at Stony Brook, 7 p.m.
Fordham at Temple, 7 p.m.
NC State at Boston College, 8 p.m.

SOUTH
SMU at East Carolina, 7 p.m.
Georgia Tech at Florida St., 7 p.m.
Davidson at Furman, 7 p.m.
Tulane at Marshall, 7 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s at Richmond, 7 p.m.
Georgia St. at UNC Wilmington, 7 p.m.
VCU at William & Mary, 7 p.m.
Texas A&M-CC at Nicholls St., 7:30 p.m.
Georgia at Auburn, 8 p.m.
Maryland at Miami, 8 p.m.
Lamar at SE Louisiana, 8 p.m.
Memphis at Southern Miss., 8 p.m.
Houston at UAB, 9 p.m.

MIDWEST
Indiana at Michigan, 6:30 p.m.
Toledo at Akron, 7 p.m.
Duquesne at Dayton, 7 p.m.
Oakland at IUPUI, 7 p.m.
E. Michigan at Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m.
Bowling Green at W. Michigan, 7 p.m.
Evansville at Bradley, 8 p.m.
Drake at Indiana St., 8 p.m.
Ohio at N. Illinois, 8 p.m.
St. Bonaventure at Saint Louis, 8 p.m.
Illinois St. at Creighton, 8:05 p.m.
Wichita St. at Missouri St., 8:05 p.m.
St. John’s at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Iowa, 8:30 p.m.
Oklahoma at Kansas, 9 p.m.

SOUTHWEST
Northwestern St. at Cent. Arkansas, 8 p.m.
UTEP at Rice, 8 p.m.
McNeese St. at Sam Houston St., 8 p.m.
Texas St. at Stephen F. Austin, 8 p.m.
Wyoming at TCU, 8 p.m.
UTSA at Texas-Arlington, 8 p.m.
Baylor at Texas A&M, 9 p.m.

FAR WEST
CS Bakersfield at New Mexico St., 8:30 p.m.
Boise St. at San Diego St., 10 p.m.
Colorado St. at UNLV, 10:30 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.