Wednesday’s slate and what to watch is packed

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All times ET. Television guide via here.

Game of the Night: West Virginia @ No. 20 Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

There was a time this season where it looked like the Mountaineers were going to be the second best team in the Big East. That was before they lost five out of six, nearly playing their way out of the NCAA Tournament. Bob Huggins team did pick up a huge win over Pitt on Saturday, going into the Peterson Events Center and smacking the Panthers around by 18 points. Hopefully, that will be the spark that snaps West Virginia out of their funk, because they have two games to prove their mettle to the selection committee. After their rematch with Notre Dame, WVU hosts Marquette on Saturday and surging South Florida to close out the regular season. Their profile is probably weaker than some folks believe, making this week — and this game, they only have decent road win — vital.

Who’s getting upset?: No. 6 Michigan State @ Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. (BTN)

The beauty of playing in the Big Ten? Minnesota may be 5-9 in conference play, but they still have a shot at making the NCAA Tournament. Why? Because they still have three chances to pick up quality wins — home to Michigan State and Indiana and at Wisconsin. Its not going to be easy considering the fact that the Gophers are in a bit of a rut right now, but crazier things have happened. I think the Gophers come to play at the Barn tonight. I also think that there isn’t much potential for an upset elsewhere in the country tonight.

Mid-major matchup of the night: UC-Santa Barbara @ Long Beach State, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)

Long Beach State is the best team in the Big West, and that is fairly undisputed. They are currently sitting at 12-0 in league play with a three game cushion on both UCSB and Cal St. Fullerton. A win tonight guarantees at least a share of the regular season title for the 49ers. Having said all that and knowing just how talented LBSU’s point guard Casper Ware is, the best player in the conference is a Gaucho, not a 49er. Orlando Johnson is an athletic, 6’5″ guard that was built to score. He’s too big and strong from smaller defenders and he has the perimeter skills and ability to get bye bigger defenders. For all the transfers that Cal St. Fullerton has on their roster, my money is on one of these two teams winning the league’s auto-bid.


South Florida @ No. 2 Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN3, Big East Network): All of a sudden this game is quite intriguing. Thanks to Georgetown’s loss, South Florida is now sitting all alone in fourth place in the Big East. Do they belong there? A strong performance tonight will give us a clue.

Nebraska @ Purdue, 6:30 p.m. (BTN): Purdue is your consummate bubble team. They have solid, but not great, computer numbers. They’ve swept all of the other Big Ten bubble teams, but they haven’t beaten anyone that’s a lock. They cannot afford a home-loss to Nebraska.

George Mason @ Northeastern, 7 p.m. (ESPN3); VCU @ UNC-Wilmington, 7 p.m.; James Madison @ Drexel, 7 p.m. (ESPNU): Do any of the top three teams in the CAA have a real shot at getting to the NCAA Tournament? If they want to continue those dreams, they cannot lose to lesser opponents.

Richmond @ St. Joe’s, 7 p.m.: St. Joe’s has been an exciting team to watch all season long, but for the first time it appears that the Hawks have a real chance of making a run to the NCAA Tournament. They cannot afford to lose this game as their profile lacks some depth.

East Carolina @ Memphis, 8 p.m.; Southern Miss @ UTEP, 9 p.m.: Both Memphis and Southern Miss are tied for first place in Conference USA. Both are also on decent NCAA Tournament footing, although another loss — over the weekend, Memphis lost at home to UTEP and Southern Miss dropped one at Houston — for either team could put that in jeopardy.

Be sure to keep an eye on

No. 19 Wichita State @ Illinois State, 8:05 p.m. (COX): The road is a notoriously dangerous place for Missouri Valley teams. Ask Creighton. Their fall from the top of the MVC started with an innocent trip to Northern Iowa.

Boise State @ No. 21 UNLV, 10:15 p.m. (CBS College): The Rebels are sliding, having lost to New Mexico and TCU on the road in their last three games. With the Lobos losing at Colorado State last night, UNLV has a chance to move back within a game of first in MWC play.

No. 22 Temple @ La Salle, 7 p.m.: Temple has taken control of the Atlantic 10 race, but this will be a dangerous game for them. A Big 5 rival having a good year on the road. That has upset written all over it.

Wyoming @ No. 24 San Diego State, 10:30 p.m. (MTN): Wyoming is a much-improved basketball team, but they have just about played their way off of the bubble. This will be a good chance for SDSU to bounce back from back-to-back losses, however. Hopefully, Jamaal Franklin’s ankle is healthy.

UT-Arlington @ McNeese State, 8 p.m.: These are the two best teams in the Southland. Arlington is currently holding a two-game lead over McNeese State. With a win, they can clinch a share of the league title.

Other notable games

– No. 5 Kansas @ Texas A&M, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
– Rutgers @ No. 10 Marquette, 8 p.m. (ESPN3, Big East Network)
– NCCU @ No. 23 Indiana, 9 p.m.
– Houston @ Marshall, 7 p.m.
– Dayton @ Duquesne, 7 p.m.
– Old Dominion @ Georgia State, 7 p.m.
– Ole Miss @ Tennessee, 7 p.m. (ESPN3, SEC Network)
– South Carolina @ Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. (ESPN3, SEC Network)
– Texas Tech @ Iowa State, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

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

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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

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.