The Morning Mix

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Today is the biggest college hoops day of the non-college hoops season.

Why you ask?

Because Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad, the two best undecided recruits in this year’s class, will announce their college decisions. Within the next 24 hours, severs will shut down, message boards will explode, “fighting words” will be exchanged and thousands of grown men and women will weep uncontrollable because a high school kid decided not to attend their Alma mater.

– Eric Bossi breaks down the top ten commitments to watch for during the spring signing period

– The new NBA draft deadline, as useful as the verbal commitment or preseason poll

– Greg Shaheen is out as the NCAA’s Executive Vice President of Championships and Alliances. If you know anybody in the media or coaching world, ask them what they think about this move. They aren’t happy. Shaheen was as well-respected as they come. More great stuff on Shaheen

Jeff Goodman’s extensive  transfer list for 2012-2013 continues to grow. This is the only transfer list you need to use

– Kellon Hassentab details which schools are vying for the top spot on the recruiting scoreboard

– Christian Watford and Cody Zeller are forgoing the NBA draft in favor of returning to Indiana. What does this mean? Indiana is going to be good, like, really good, next year. So is the Big-Ten

– UConn’s Jeremy Lamb has decided to leave school and enter the NBA draft. I guess he doesn’t mind that his final college field goal attempt was a missed windmill dunk at the buzzer of a blowout loss to Iowa State.  His teammate Andre Drummond still has not decided and will not make a decision until the last possible day

– Baylor freshman Quincy Miller has decided to return to Waco for his sophomore season

– Duke forward Mason Plumlee has decided against entering the draft and will return to school for his senior year. He showed much improvement in his offensive game this season, and will look to be one of the Blue Devil’s key low-post threats next season

– Texas’ back-up guard Sterling Gibbs (brother of Pittsburgh’s Ashton) has decided to transfer after one season in Austin

– Reserve forward Karam Mashour is leaving the UNLV program in search of more playing time

– Arizona bolstered their backcourt with the addition of Duquesne-transfer T.J. McConnell, one of the most underrated guards in the country

– SMU has seemingly gone after any and every head coach they can get in contact with. Next on their list is Saint Louis head coach Rick majerus, according to Jeff Goodman

– New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies won’t be the next head coach at Colorado State. For now he will remain at NMSU, but there are still a handful of openings that might become available to him. Gary Parrish is reporting the former-Oregon head coach Ernie Kent is close to getting the head coaching job at Colorado State. But Rich Kurtzman also reported that New Mexico assistant coach Craig Neal would be named the new head coach

– Duquesne has finally found their new head basketball in LIU-Brooklyn’s Jim Ferry.  He led the Blackbirds to back-to-back NEC titles, and employs one of the most high-octane styles of play in the country. The school has promoted assistant coach Jack Perri to replace Ferry has head coach

– Ever since Kentucky cut down the nets in New Orleans, posts and articles have poured in proclaiming that it was a terrible thing for college hoops, and that the one-and-done is ruining the sport. Glen Logan provides a fantastic-read on why that’s just not true

– NBA Draft Blog fills us in on what players to watch for at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament

– There is a reason why John Calipari didn’t recruit any four or five-star point guards for next year’s class. That reason? North Carolina State-transfer Ryan Harrow. He will be eligible to play next season and will be an instant impact

– The discussion continues to pick up on whether not Central Michigan-transfer Trey Zeigler will be able to play immediately next season at Pittsburgh

– Another interesting discussion: Is the Indiana-Kentucky series in jeopardy? It can’t be, right? Not after what went down this season

– According to Hustle Belt, Keno Davis is the most-followed person in the MAC. Gotta love off-season statistics

– Life-long Michigan fans are being priced out of their seats at the new Chrysler Center

– A great-read on what Boston U. has to do to become “The Gonzaga of the East”

– MSU big-man Derrick Nix was busted for marijuana possession a couple of weeks ago. Turns out he was  busted while driving a brand new 2011 Dodge Charger. Where does a college kid, albeit one on scholarship, get a brand new Dodge Charger?

– Not exactly sure what  “The Gator Grind” is, but they put together an awesome music video/promo video about Florida student athletes, and it features Patric Young

– From here on out, all logo changes need to be accompanied by awesome promo videos like the one the Houston Cougars put together

– If Syracuse was 100% organic New Zealand cheddar cheese, and Nerlens Noel was a black lab named Billy, they would spend the next year together, or well, the next 5-8 hours of digestion together. Something like that. Just watch the video.

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

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.