Championship Week Total Recap

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After 14 hectic days, Championship Week is finally over. 31 tickets to the Big Dance were automatically punched in a two-week span which featured some monumental upsets, brilliant individual performances and classic battles. Before you fill out your brackets, take a look back at who did what over the past 14 days.

News and Notes:
– Of the 30 conference tournament champions, eleven were No.1-seeds, ten were No.2-seeds, five were No.3-seeds and two were No.7-seeds. One No.4-seed and one No.6-seed won as well.

– The two No.7-seed champions, Western Kentucky (Sun Belt) and Louisville (Big East), and the only No.6-seed champion Colorado were the only teams to win four games in four days en route to a conference tournament championship.

– Michigan State was the only No.1-seed in a BCS-conference to win the tournament championship.

– Missouri had the highest scoring average of any championship-winning team. They scored 259 points in three games, for an average of  86.3ppg.

– Four No.1-seeds did not win a single game in their conference tournaments. No.1 Temple lost to No.8 UMass, No.1 Middle Tennessee lost to No.9 Arkansas State, No.1 Savannah State lost to No.8 Bethune-Cookman and No.1 Washington lost to No.9 Oregon State.

– Four NCAA Tournament teams did not win a single conference tournament game. As mentioned, Temple lost to UMass, No.3 Iowa State lost to No.6 Texas, No.5 Kansas State lost to No.4 Baylor, and No.8 West Virginia lost to No.9 UConn.

– Three teams lost championship games on their home floor. No.1 Stony Brook lost to No.2 Vermont in the America East finals, No.1 Valaparaiso lost to No.3 Detroit in the Horizon League finals, and No.1 Bucknell lost to No.2 Lehigh in the Patriot League finals.

Player of the Week: C/F – Andrew Nicholson – St. Bonaventure’s
The 6-foot-8 native of Ontario was the primary reason the No.4-seed Bonnies won the Atlantic-10 Tournament. He scored 26 points in the championship game against Xavier, and on the week he averaged 23.3ppg, 10.0rpg, 5.3bpg and 1.3apg. The versatile big-man shot 55 percent from the field (21-of-38) including 50 percent (4-of-8) from beyond the arc. He was also shot a staggering 89 percent (24-of-27) from the foul line. Nicholson is projected as a late-first round selection in the 2012 NBA draft and will be a difficult match-up for Bernard James of Florida State, who the Bonnies play in the second round of the NCAA Tournament

All-Championship Week Team:
– G – C.J. McCollum – Lehigh:
The sharpshooting guard scored 71 points in three games to lead the No.2-seed Mountain Hawks to the Patriot League Tournament Championship. As good as McCollum was during the regular season, he was named Patriot League PoY, he was even better in the postseason. He averaged 23.6ppg, 6.0rpg, 5.0apg, 4.0spg, and 1.0bpg, and recorded a season-high seven steals against Colgate in the quarterfinals

– G – Casper Ware – Long Beach State:
The diminutive point guard scored 66 points in three games, leading the 49ers to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007. The senior scored 33 points in the championship game against UC-Santa Barbara, the team that bounced the 49ers out of the past two Big West tournaments. He finished

– G – Mike James – Lamar: His 26 points in the Southland Tournament finals propelled the No.3-seed Cardinals to an unexpected birth in the NCAA Tournament. He finished the week averaging 20.3ppg, 5.3rpg, 2,7apg and 1.3spg.

– F – Doug McDermott – Creighton:
McDermott followed up his All-American caliber season with an equally impressive showing in the MVC Tournament. He scored 33 points in the championship game, which the Bluejays defeated Illinois State 83-79 in overtime. He averaged 24.3ppg during Championship Week, and shot 65 percent (24-of-37) from the field and 78 percent (18-of-23) from the foul line.

– F – Kim English – Missouri:
The senior swing-man was the driving force behind the Tigers’ dominant championship run in the Big-XII Tournament, the school’s final Big-XII tournament before jumping ship to the SEC. Coming off of a 27-point performance against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals, English scored 23 points against Texas despite suffering a deep thigh contusion. He fought through the injury and led Tigers to a 90-75 victory over Baylor in the championship game, scoring 19 points, 15 of which came from behind the arc. English was also responsible for the photo of the week.

Team of the Week: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

The No.7-seed Hilltoppers went through a mid-season coaching change amidst a five-game losing streak. Despite this, they won four games in four days en route to the Sun Belt Tournament Championship. All four of their games were won by less than five points, and they defeated the No.2, No.3 and No.5 seeds in their tournament. Forward George Fant was the only freshman in the country to be named as a Tournament MVP. He lead the team in scoring over the four game stretch, averaging 14.9ppg.

Game of the Week: Marshall 105, Tulsa 100 3OT
Marshall’s DeAndre Kane scored a career-high 40 points as the Thundering Herd outlasted the Golden Hurricanes in the first triple-overtime game in Conference-USA tournament history. Neither team led by more than seven points, and the game featured 21 ties and 19 lead changes.

Championship Results:

America East Conference: (MVP: Brian Voelkel, Vermont)
#2 Vermont 51, #1 Stony Brook 43

Atlantic Coast Conference: (Michael Snaer, Florida State)
#3 Florida State 85, #1 North Carolina 82

Atlantic Sun Conference: (Kerron Johnson, Belmont)
#1 Belmont 83, #6 Florida Gulf Coast 69

Atlantic-10 Conference: (Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure’s)
#4 St. Bonaventure’s 67, #3 Xavier 56

Big East Conference: (Peyton Siva, Louisville)
#7 Louisville 50, #4 Cincinnati 44

Big Sky Conference: (Kareem Jamar, Montana)
#1 Montana 85, #2 Weber State 66

Big South Conference: (J.P. Primm, UNC-Asheville)
#1 UNC-Asheville 80, #7 VMI 64

Big-Ten Conference: (Draymond Green, Michigan State)
#1 Michigan State 68, #2 Ohio State 64

Big-XII Conference: (Kim English, Missouri)
#2 Missouri 90, #4 Baylor 75

Big West Conference : (Casper Ware, Long Beach State)
#1 Long Beach State 77, #3 Santa Barbara 64

Colonial Athletic Association: (Darius Theus, VCU)
#2 VCU 59, #1 Drexel 56

Conference-USA: (Joe Jackson, Memphis)
#1 Memphis 83, #5 Marshall 57

Horizon League: (Ray McCallum Jr., Detroit)
#3 Detroit 68, #1 Valparaiso 50

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference: (Erik Etherly, Loyola)
#2 Loyola (Md.) 48, #4 Fairfield 44

Mid-American Conference: (D.J. Cooper, Ohio)
#3 Ohio 64, #1 Akron 63

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference: (Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State)
#2 Norfolk State 73, #4 Bethune-Cookman 70

Missouri Valley Conference : (Doug McDermott, Creighton)
#2 Creighton 83, #4 Illinois State 79 OT

Mountain West Conference: (Drew Gordon, New Mexico)
#2 New Mexico 68, #1 San Diego State 59

Northeast Conference: (Julian Boyd, Long Island)
#1 Long Island 90, #3 Robert Morris 73

Ohio Valley Conference: (Donte Poole, Murrary State)
#1 Murray State 54, #2 Tennessee State 52

Pac-12 Conference: (Carlon Brown, Colorado)
#6 Colorado 53 #4 Arizona 51

Patriot League: (C.J. McCollum, Lehigh)
#2 Lehigh 82 #1 Bucknell 77

Southeastern Conference: (John Jenkins, Vanderbilt)
#3 Vanderbilt 71, #1 Kentucky 64

Southern Conference: (De’Mon Brooks, Davidson)
#1S Davidson 93, #3N Western Carolina 91 2OT

Southland Conference: (Mike James, Lamar)
#3 Lamar 70, #4 McNeese State 49

Southwestern Athletic Conference: (Cor-J Cox, Mississippi Valley State)
#1 Mississippi Valley State 71, #2 Texas Southern 69

Summit League: (Nate Wolters, South Dakota State)
#2 South Dakota State 52, #4 Western Illinois 50

Sun Belt Conference: (George Fant, Western Kentucky)
#7 Western Kentucky 74 #5 North Texas 70

Western Athletic Conference: (Wendell McKines, New Mexico State)
#2 New Mexico State 82, #5 Louisiana Tech 57

West Coast Conference: (Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s)
#1 Saint Mary’s 78, #2 Gonzaga 74 OT


Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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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

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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

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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.