Tuesday’s slate, what to watch: Missouri, Michigan must beware

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All times ET. Television guide via here.

Game of the Night: Kansas State @ No. 3 Missouri, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Kansas State is coming off of a huge road win against Baylor, which should ease some of the Wildcat’s concerns about making the NCAA Tournament. While the win over Baylor is probably not enough in and of itself, Frank Martin’s club also owns a victory over Missouri from the start of conference play. And not just any win; a 16 point demolition. Don’t think, for a second, that the Tigers have forgotten about that.

Missouri is all but a lock for a top two seed in the tournament, so while they will be playing for pride — and a regular season Big 12 title — Kansas State still has some work to do before they are comfortably in the tournament, and a sweep of a top three team would go a long way. The key matchup is going to be at the point. Will Angel Rodriguez, who has had a bit of an up and down freshman season, be able to handle the ball pressure that is going to be provided by Phil Pressey?

Who’s getting upset?: No. 11 Michigan @ Northwestern, 8 p.m. (BTN)

Northwestern bounced back from consecutive road losses to Purdue and Indiana with a solid win at home over Minnesota. The Wildcats are on the verge of being on the right side of the bubble for the first time in the history of the program, but the problem is that they cannot quite get over the hump in their big games. Case in point: they lost at Michigan earlier this season by two points in double overtime. These two teams play similar styles of basketball, so expect plenty of threes to be taken.

Mid-major matchup of the Night: Xavier @ UMass, 7 p.m. (FS Ohio)

Xavier picked up a huge win at home over the weekend, as they were able to hang on against Dayton in overtime. The bigger news, however, is that for the first time since the brawl, Tu Holloway played like Tu Holloway. The Musketeers still have their issues — their size doesn’t play big, Mark Lyons is in a funk still, etc. — but getting their star to once again play like an all-american and the most dangerous player in the country in the final minute is a huge step in the right direction. UMass is no pushover, however. Winning on the road will be a nice statement game for Xavier with a trip to St. Louis coming next.

Bubblicious:

No. 1 Kentucky @ Mississippi State, 9 p.m. (ESPN): I know its hard to believe, but Mississippi State is actually sitting on the bubble right now following losses to Georgia, LSU and Auburn. And now they get to host Kentucky in a game that just about everyone expects to be a blowout. Can the Bulldogs rally, especially after their coach blasted Kentucky transfer Twany Beckham in the media?

No. 7 North Carolina @ NC State, 8 p.m. (ACC Network): There is still a three-way tie atop the ACC standings, but those three have pulled away from the pack. NC State is sitting in fourth place, but they are a full three games behind the leaders. After blowing a 20 point lead to Duke and losing by 14 to Florida State at home, this is close to being a must-win for the Wolfpack.

Illinois @ No. 8 Ohio State, 7 p.m. (ESPN): You want an idea of what the bubble is like this season? Despite everything that has happened with Illinois, they still have a chance to play their way into the tournament if they can turn this around the last two weeks.

No. 9 Georgetown @ Seton Hall, 7 p.m. (Big East Network): Seton Hall is currently sitting right on the NCAA Tournament’s cutline, which is fairly surprising given how well they played earlier in the season. Jordan Theodore and Herb Pope look like they are finally starting to play like they were in November.

No. 18 New Mexico @ Colorado State, 10 p.m. (MTN): The Lobos could very well be the hottest team in the country right now, but Colorado State is the only team in the MWC outside of the top three with a shot at an at-large. They have to get this one, however.

Other notable games

– Auburn @ No. 11 Florida, 7 p.m.
– UIC @ Butler, 7 p.m.
– Wofford @ UNC-Greensboro, 7 p.m.
– Evansville @ Creighton, 8 p.m.
– Virginia @ Virginia Tech, 9 p.m.

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

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

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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

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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.