The Morning Mix

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Championship Week is here.  By this time next week, five conferences will have handed out auto-bids. But before we can get to that, we there is a lot of news and notes to digest from a busy weekend in college hoops.

The final regular season meeting of the “Border War” was a legendary affair. An Instant Classic. Game-of-the-Year. Why is this rivalry ending again? College basketball needs this game. If this rivalry is going to end, they certainly put on one heckuva finale. Take a gander at a solid photo gallery from the final “Border War”

– Chuck Landon takes Memphis to task. This article doesn’t accomplish much, but it sure is entertaining

–  After beating Vanderbilt on Saturday, Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was quoted as saying “I’m graduating here. I’m not going Anywhere. I’m staying at Kentucky as of now”  and “I’m dead serious. I don’t know why y’all laughing?” But the freshman forward backtracked a bit, saying “I’m going to do whatever is best for me.” It’s a near-guarantee that MKG would be a lottery pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman then caused a mini-riot in Lexington when he tweeted that power-broker “World Wide Wes” would factor into MKG’s decision. In Goodman’s defense, it’s not an illogical thought at all. Nor is it an accusation or loaded opinion with hidden agenda

– Speaking of Kentucky, what do the Wildcats need to do before postseason play begins? In case you haven’t watched Kentucky play at all this season, you should probably know that Anthony Davis is an absolute animal. But will a perfect regular season bode well for the ‘Cats come postseason time?

The NCAA handed down it’s (harsh) punishment to former-Radford coach Brad Greenberg, the brother of Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg

Nebraska boosters took out a full-page advertisement  in order to show their support for Doc Sadler, the Huskers head basketball coach

– It was announced very shortly before the tip-off on Sunday that Miami center Reggie Johnson was ruled ineligible to play. The ‘Canes did well without him, beating in-state rivals Florida State

– Missouri State’s Kyle Weems could have left after last season. After all, he had graduated, and with a year of eligibility left, was being pursued by high-major teams. But he decided to finish what he started

– We all saw what Pat Knight said following his team’s loss to Sam Houston State on Wednesday night. If you haven’t already done it, take a look. But maybe Knight was on to something. While the rant was well, “colorful”, it did provide some national spotlight on the small Southland Conference school. Plus, parents of a few of the players were fully supportive of what Knight had to say, and on Saturday his Lamar Cardinals went out and smacked Stephen F. Austin 72-49. So, instead of asking if it was “Rant of the Year“, maybe we should be asking if it was the “savviest Coaching Technique of the Year”?

If you didn’t read this already, make sure you do. Dan Hanner provides an excellent breakdown of the top coaches in the country based on player development and recruiting

– We reached our quota this weekend for “dancing coach videos”. On Friday night, Marquette’s Buzz Williams two-stepped on West Virginia’s court, and on Sunday, Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan did something vaguely resembling a dance move

A nice little preview of the Horizon League Tournament

A nice little tournament tracker to get your week off on the right track

– Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey is in line to possibly receive his fourth “Coach of the Year” award

– Jim Calhoun plans on making his return to the sideline on March 3 when the UConn Huskies take on Pittsburgh in the regular season finale

– A former-Oregon State basketball player was arrested on drug trafficking charges

– Doug Gottlieb wonders if the UConn Huskies can make another remarkable post-season run

– At the beginning of the season, did anyone project Xavier as a bubble team? If you did, you’re lying

A nice write-up on Wisconsin redshirt freshman Evan Anderson and the value of patience

– Just in case you weren’t already aware that message boards breed hate and unnecessary vitriol, read the solid-take from Boiled Sports

– Alabama head coach Anthony Grant is getting the job done this season. Sure, the record might not indicate the success he’s had, but he is getting it done. On and off the court

– Speaking of Alabama, Levi Randolph almost killed ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes during the Crimson Tide’s victory at Arkansas

– Don’t look now, but the Ivy League title race is starting to heat up

– After starting the season 1-11, the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils are looking to finish up an undefeated SWAC season

– Michigan forward Jon Horford is officially done for the year and will take a medical redshirt

– Tennessee might not make the tournament this year, but the team is improving leaps and bounds under new head coach Cuonzo Martin

– Looking for a sleeper pick in the Summit League Tournament? How about IUPUI, the hottest team in the league? What if we were talking about the Big East Tournament? May I suggest St. Johns?

– Former-Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese put college presidents “on blast”

– When a game-winner is outdone by a full-court buzzer-beater

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

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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.