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On day three of exam week, the Catholic-7 emerged as this big storyline of the day. Plus, there were some half-decent games played out on the hardwood. Remember, you have to take everything with a grain of salt during exam week. We’re working with slim pickins here.

Lets hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top Games: 
7:00 p.m. – Savannah State @ No. 7 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – Towson @ Temple
8:00 p.m. – Monmouth @ Maryland
9:00 p.m. – DePaul @ Arizona
9:00 p.m. – UW-Green Bay @ Wisconsin
9:30 p.m. – Lamar @ Baylor
10:00 p.m. – Colorado @ Fresno State
10:35 p.m. – Oregon State @ Portland State

Read of the Day:
Halil Kanacevic flipped off the Villanova student section. It was stupid, it was dumb, it was regrettable, and it ultimately cost his team the game. Aaron Bracy provides a great-read on the 21-year old’s mistake and reaction. We’ve all done stupid things before. But luckily for most of us, they didn’t appear on national television. Read it. (Philahoops.com)

Top Stories:
Late Night Snacks: Trevor Mbakwe had his first big-time performance of the season, Siyani Chambers won the game for Harvard, and Halil Kanacevic flipped off the Villanova student section.

Villanova wins the Holy War, but St. Joe’s is still blowing close games: Villanova displayed great toughness against the Hawks last night, but were helped out by some poor decision-making by St. Joe’s down the stretch. The Hawks were the favorites to win the A-10 and have a solid win over Notre Dame under their belt. But still, this was St. Joe’s game to win, and they lost.

Does it really make sense for the hoops schools to leave the Big East? As mentioned, the big story line from Tuesday was the reports that the catholic schools in the Big East want to break off and either start their own conference or join the Atlantic-10. But does either option really make sense?

Cincinnati e-mails show school administrators mulling options in Big 12, ACC: As the conference expansion landscape continues to change, Cincinnati continues to mull their options.

Properly evaluating Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart: The freshman phenom is tearing up the Midwest  yet has been somewhat of a lightning rod for debate. Some say he’s the best player in the country, others think he’s not a good enough shooter. Rob Dauster breaks it down for you.

45 different scouts will be in attendance for North Texas vs. Lehigh: When the two mid-major programs square off next Thursday, 26 different NBA teams will have representatives on hand to watch North Texas’ Tony Mitchell and Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum.

Exam week essay on how to cure what ails Kentucky: Kentucky is currently battling through the roughest year of the John Calipari era. What is the root problem for the Wildcats and how, if at all, can it be remedied in order for the team to make their third-straight Final Four?

Hoops Housekeeping
– Butler freshman Chris Harrison-Docks is transferring to Western Kentucky. (Topper Talk)

– Fordham freshman Devon “Fatty” McMillan granted release, will transfer at the end of semester (SNY.tv)

– UNLV freshman DaQuan Cook was expected to take a redshirt season, but it looks like he will see meaningful minutes on Thursday in what will be his first game of the season (Las Vegas Sun)

Observations & Insight:
– Gary Parrish has the answers to all your questions regarding the potential departure of the non-football members of the Big East (Eye on College Basketball)

– The addition of the Catholic-7 to the A-10 would be a welcomed with open arms by VCU fans (VCU Ram Nation)

– The CAA is moving it’s postseason tournament from Richmond to Baltimore, probably because Old Dominion and Viriginia Commonwealth are no longer members. (Baltimore Sun)

– This is still in the rumor stage, but it should be monitored: Mountain West to keep Boise State, SDSU; add Houston, SMU, Tulsa, BYU (Mountain West Connection)

– It was announced that the BracketBusters event will shut down after this season. With all the TV coverage availbile through ESPNU, NBCSN and CBSSN, the need for a platform for mid-majors is no longer needed. (ESPN)

– The NCAA honored all-time greats yesterday as part of 75 years of March Madness celebration (NCAA.com)

– Did anyone expect San Francisco to be this good? I know I didn’t. (College Chalk Talk)

– Duquesne got a huge win last night against West Virginia, the first “signature win” of Jim Ferry’s tenure in Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

Odds & Ends:
– Michael Carter-Williams states there was “a big misunderstanding” regarding the incident at a Lord & Taylor store at the Destiny USA mall. (Sporting News)

– T. Boone Pickens purchased remaining 4,000 tickets for Oklahoma State vs. Gonzaga game in order to fill out the arena (NewsOK.com)

Picture of the Day:
#FacePalm. Halil Kanacevic, please take note. If you are going to flip off the opposing team’s student section, you must a) make sure you win the game, b) flip them off AFTER you’ve beaten their team or c) make your foul shots.  The St. Joe’s forward did none of these and his team ultimately lost to Villanova 65-61 last night. (The 700 Level)

source:

Dunk(s) of the Day:
Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe spent a lot of time above the rim during the Golden Gophers in over South Dakota State last night. I love the 360-jam, but you gotta stay on your feet homeboy. (The Daily Gopher)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xU1v2U4V838#!]

Video(s) of the Day:
A teaser trailer for the All Access: Inside Memphis video for Inside Memphis Basketball. I’m not sure when it’s coming out, but man am I looking forward to it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUgmv1ll0rA&feature=youtu.be]

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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.