Friday’s Shootaround: Murray State and St. Mary’s lose

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Gonzaga 73, No. 13 St. Mary’s 59: See here.

Tennessee State 72, No. 7 Murray State 68: See here.

No. 22 Wisconsin 68, Minnesota 61 OT: In one of the stranger games you are going to see this season, Minnesota whiffed on a golden opportunity to land a marquee win heading into the season’s crucial stretch. The Golden Gophers were down 13 point midway through the second half, but managed to hold Wisconsin scoreless over a seven and a half minute stretch to close out regulation. The problem? Minnesota was only able to muster 10 points during that stretch, eventually heading to overtime after Tubby Smith’s club missed two shots in the game’s final seconds that would have sent Wisconsin back to Madison with their fifth loss of Big Ten play.

In the extra frame, Minnesota went cold, allowing Wisconsin to reel off six straight point in the first 3:35 of overtime to take a commanding lead. The Badgers hit 11 of their 12 free throws in the final minute to seal the win. Jordan Taylor led the way for Wisky going for 27 points on 8-14 shooting from the floor. If Wisconsin wants a real shot to make some noise late in the season, they are going to need more out of the rest of the Badgers. Everyone not named Jordan Taylor went just 11-39 from the floor.

Minnesota’s next five games: Ohio State, at Northwestern, Michigan State, Indiana, at Wisconsin. They’ll have their chances to prove they belong in the dance.

No. 23 Indiana 84, Illinois 71: Its looks like Indiana may have finally righted the ship. After losing five of seven, four of which were away from Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers backed up a 17 point win in Mackey Arena with a solid win over an up-and-down Illinois team. Cody Zeller finished with 22 points and five boards — outplaying Meyers Leonard, who fouled out with 17 points — as the Hoosiers head into the stretch of the Big Ten schedule with a 7-6 record in the league and their three toughest opponents all visiting Bloomington.

No. 18 Mississippi State 70, Ole Miss 60: Despite losing their leading scorer midway through the season, the Rebels have found themselves sitting smack in the middle of the SEC and with a real shot at earning an at-large bid to the Big Dance. Unfortunately, this season looks like it is going to go down as one of missed opportunities. They lost in double overtime to both Alabama and Auburn. They blew a 16 point lead and lost to Florida at home. Dee Bost had 15 points and 13 assists while Arnett Moultrie added 18 points in the win for the Bulldogs, who improved to 6-3 in league play.


Oregon 82, Washington 57: There are times where Washington can look so good and there are times where the Huskies look downright atrocious. Tonight was the latter. The Ducks were up 49-26 at the half as they ran away with this one. I don’t care if the game was played on the road, you cannot lose by 25 points in league play to a thoroughly mediocre team and be considered a threat to do anything. Unless, of course, you are Washington, who always seems to put themselves in this situation before making a miraculous, late-season run.

Arizona 71, Colorado 57: All of a sudden, the Wildcats look like they may actually be the best team in the Pac-12. Granted, the Buffs have been atrocious on the road this season, but the Wildcats, playing without the injured Kevin Parrom, have now won three in a row, picking off both Cal and Stanford on the road last week.

Cal 75, USC 49: With this win and Washington’s loss, the Bears pull back into a first-place tie in the league with Washington at 9-3. Oregon, Colorado and Arizona are all sitting a game back at 8-4.

– UCLA 72, Stanford 61

Summit League:

South Dakota 72, South Dakota State 68: The Jackrabbits hit 10 second half threes, including eight in the final 11 minutes, to cut a 19 point deficit all the way down to two points with 23 seconds left. But Nate Wolters, who finished with 27 points and six assists, missed a potential game-tying three and SDSU missed two front-ends late in the game. SDSU falls two games behind league leader Oral Roberts, a deficit that is going to be tough to make up in the season’s final four games.

Oral Roberts 76, IUPUI 74 OT: ORU barely survived in this one. Playing in the Mabee Center, the Golden Eagles fouled Alex Young, who finished with 34 points, when he hit a three. He hit the free throws, forcing OT. In the extra session, IUPUI hit a free throw to tie the game at 74, but Roderick Pearson bailed ORU out with a running one-hander to win the game at the buzzer.

NC State 61, Georgia Tech 52: The Wolfpack overcame an early deficit on the strength of 15 points from CJ Williams as they avenged an loss to the Yellow Jackets earlier this season. The win moves NC State to 7-3 in the ACC and keeps them in contention for an at-large bid.

Valparaiso 59, Cleveland State 41: Valpo’s win gave them a sweep of the Vikings, my pick to win the Horizon this season, and in the process took over sole possession of first place in the league, although they are only a half-game up on CSU and tied in the loss column. Of note: Kevin Van Wijk injured his knee in the game and didn’t return.

Other notable scores:

– LMU 76, Portland 62
– Nevada 88, Hawaii 79
– Davidson 77, The Citadel 66
– Stony Brook 80, UMBC 68
– Weber State 67, Northern Arizona 49
– Northwestern 83, Iowa 64
– Miami 65, Virginia Tech 49
– Long Beach State 74, Pacific 66

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
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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

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.