Five more matchups we’d like to see happen

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ESPN has rolled out an extensive series on non-conference scheduling this week, the latest of which came courtesy of Myron Medcalf, who took a look at matchups that he would love to see.

Obviously, Medcalf started his list with Kentucky versus Indiana, ended it with Kentucky versus UCLA and had everything from Louisville-Indiana to Memphis-Arizona to Murray State-Creighton in between. I have no qualms with his list.

But I do have five dream matchups of my own:

Lehigh vs. Murray State: The Racers are coming off of a season where they won their first 23 games, suffered just a single loss prior to the NCAA tournament, and put together enough talent on Steve Prohm’s first team in Murray that they could have made a deep run into the tournament had they not run into a tough Marquette team in the second round. Lehigh managed to knock off Bucknell in the Patriot League’s title game to earn an automatic bid to the tournament, where they upset No. 2 seed Duke in the first round.

The common thread? Both teams return all-american caliber point guards whose only contact with a national audience for the majority of the season will be illegal internet streams. But a battle between CJ McCollum and Isaiah Canaan? Yeah, I’ll wanna be court side for that.

Wisconsin vs. Florida: This spring has been defined by “The Transfer Dilemma”, and it all started when Bo Ryan blocked Jarrod Uthoff from transferring to 26 different schools. While Ryan eventually relented on the restrictions, but it wasn’t before every writer in the country had penned a column ripping him and his abuse of power. One of the schools on that list? Florida. Making matters more interesting? Billy Donovan came out announced that he was in favor of allowing players to transfer anywhere. Awkward …

UNLV vs. UCLA: Chace Stanback fizzled out at UCLA, transferring to UNLV where he became a first-team all-conference performer. Stanback has graduated, but the presence of a disgruntled former Bruin is still on the Rebel roster. Potential all-american Mike Moser, who averaged 14.1 points and 10.6 boards last season and earned first-team all-MWC honors, also started his career in Westwood. UCLA has had more image issues than they’ve had success of late, but they will be a consensus top ten team this season.

And so will UNLV. Yes please.

Michigan vs. Georgetown: There is nothing amazing or unique about this matchup. One’s a massive state school in the Big Ten, the other is a much small private school in the heart of DC and Big East country. John Beilein did spend some time coaching West Virginia as the Hoyas’ Big East rival, but there is nothing particularly special about their history. What makes this matchup appealing to me is that both programs run a unique system offensively and mix up their defenses. Both teams should be pretty good, as well, which makes this game all-the-more intriguing.

San Diego State vs. BYU: Remember back in 2010, when Jimmer Fredette and Kawhi Leonard led BYU and SDSU, respectively, to top ten rankings and high tournament seeds before getting picked in the first round of the NBA Draft? I certainly do. They had some battles that season. Next year, the Aztecs should be really good as they add a number of athletic big men to join an already-talented crop of back court players. And BYU? They should be pretty good, too, as Brandon Davies and Matt Carlino return, Tyler Haws is finally back from his Mormon mission and Chris Collinsworth will (hopefully) be healthy. It may not be Jimmer vs. Kawhi, but it would be fun, no?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.


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.