16 things you need to know about the Sweet-16

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The first weekend is in the books, and now just 16 teams remaining in the running for a National Championship. The first true Sweet-16 took place in 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams.

With a five-day break in between games, take some time to get to know the Sweet-16.

1. Mid-Major Madness?
Mid-major teams are just 32-53 in Sweet-16 games since 1985. The most success by mid-majors came last year, when five small-conference schools made the Sweet-16 and two of them advanced to the Elite Eight and eventually the Final Four. Xavier and Ohio are the only mid-majors in the Sweet-16 this season. This is Xavier’s fourth Sweet-16 appearance since 2008, but had never been seeded lower than sixth. Only five mid-major teams seeded No.10 or higher have advanced past the Sweet-16 since 200.

2. Lower Seeds Struggle
Since 1985, teams seeded No.10 and higher have gone just 13-46. Only two No.14-seeds have made the Sweet-16 (Chattanooga – ’97 and Cleveland State – ’86), and both teams lost. Three No.13-seeds have made the Sweet-16 and all three (Bradley – ’06, Valparaiso – ’98, and Richmond – ’88) lost. Since 2000, teams seeded No.10 or lower have won just six times, and have lost 20 out of 26 games. This season there are three teams seeded No.10 or lower competing in the Sweet-16. This is also the third consecutive year that three teams seeded No.10 or lower have advanced to the Sweet-16. The most teams seeded No.10 or lower to ever compete in the Sweet-16 in one season was four back in 1999.

3. Straight Chalk
This is just the seventh time since 2000 that all No.1-seeds have advanced to the Sweet-16. Since 2010, only six No.1-seeds have advanced to the Sweet-16, and of that group, only three teams advanced to the Elite Eight.

4. Four Alive in Ohio
For the first time in tournament history, four teams from one state have advanced to the Sweet-16. No.2 Ohio State, No.6 Cincinnati, No.10 Xavier, and No.13 Ohio all advanced to the Sweet-16. Cincinnati and Ohio State will face-off in an interstate battle to determine one of the Elite Eight teams from the East region.

5. No Fives Alive
This is the first time since 1992 that no No.5-seeds have advanced to the Sweet-16. Only two No.5-seeds advanced to the Round of 32 this year, and both teams, New Mexico and Vanderbilt, lost.

6. The Scores
In 1988, No.1-seed Oklahoma set a Sweet-16 record by scoring 108 points against No.5-seed Louisville. The final score was 108-98, which is the Sweet-16 record for most combined points scored in one game. The least amount of points scored by one team in a Sweet-16 game was 43, set by No.5-seed Maryland back in 1985 and by No.10-seed Miami (OH) in 1999. Maryland lost to No.8-seed Villanova by a final score of 46-43, which still stands as a Sweet-16 record for the fewest combined points scored in one game. The largest point differential in a Sweet-16 game was recorded in 2009 when No.1 Louisville defeated No.12 Arizona by 39 points, in a 103-64 blowout.

7. The West Was Not Won
No teams from the Mountain and Pacific time zones are in the Sweet-16. Only three teams from the two time zones made the Round of 32 and all three teams lost. Baylor is the Western-most team remaining in the tournament.

8. The Rematch
No.1-seed Kentucky and No.4-seed Indiana meet in a rematch of their instant classic from December 10, when Christian Watford hit a buzzer-beater to defeat the Wildcats 73-72. The game will take place in Atlanta on Friday at 9:45PM. This is the only tournament game thus far that has been a rematch of a regular season game.

9. High School Sweethearts
18 different high schools have more than one former-player on Sweet-16 roster. The Brewster Academy has five former-players still standing, the most of any high school.

10. State’s Rights
The state of Indiana has more players competing in the Sweet-16 than any other state. 25 Indiana-natives still have a chance to cut down the nets in New Orleans. Ohio has the second-most representatives with 23, and North Carolina has 18. In all, 36 different states have representatives on Sweet-16 rosters.

11. The Wolf Pack is Back
This is the first time since 1985 that North Carolina State has advanced further in the tournament than Duke. This is just NC-State’s first Sweet-16 appearance since 2005 when they were a No.10-seed. Overall, NC-State is 2-2 in Sweet-16 games since 1985.

12. No Home-Court Advantage Out West
The West Regional in Phoenix, AZ will have no teams participating that are located within 1,500 miles of the arena. Marquette and Louisville are both located roughly 1,700 miles away, while Michigan State is 1,900 miles away and Florida over 2,000 miles away. The three other Regional sites have at least one participating team that is located with-in 500 miles of the arena.

13. Bobcats are Lucky No.13
Ohio has made the NCAA five different times, once as a No.12-seed, twice as a No.13-seed and twice as a No.14-seed. They have won as many games in the 2012 NCAA tournament as they have in their entire tournament history. They become just the fifth No.13-seed to make the Sweet-16, and if they can beat No.1-seed UNC, will become the first No.13-seed to ever advance to the Elite Eight.

14. The Six-Game Streak
14 of the 16 remaining teams will not play for the 2012 National Championship. Since 2002, Every National Champion has compiled two regular season win streaks of at least five games and has advanced to the semifinals of their conference tournament. Of the 16 remaining teams, three teams (Marquette, Indiana and North Carolina State) do not meet the requirements.

15. No No.15-seeds in Sweet-16
This was the first time in Tournament history that two No.15-seeds had advanced to the Round of 32, but thanks to Xavier and Florida, this will be the 27th consecutive year that a No.15-seed has be absent from the Sweet-16.

16. 16 Teams Remain, But There Is Only One Kentucky
Of the 16 remaining teams, Kentucky is the overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets iN New Orleans. The odds of them winning the entire tournament from here on out are at a staggering 9-5. Only the Florida Gators have a larger average margin of victory (30) than the Wildcats (15.5). But the Wildcats defeated the Gators three times during the regular season with a an 12.6 point margin of victory average.

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

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.