Weekend Preview: Oregon, San Diego State lead upset watch

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Who’s Getting Upset? No. 10 Oregon at Cal (4:30 p.m. ET, FSN/ROOT)

I don’t even know if this is fair to count as an upset. Oregon is on the road and playing without their starting point guard in Dominic Artis. Artis injured his foot two games ago, and the Ducks simply haven’t been the same since. The struggled to knock off a Washington team that was coming off of back-to-back losses to Oregon State and Utah, and followed that up by getting shellacked by Stanford on Wednesday night.

At full strength, Oregon is a dangerous team. They have a lot of size and even more versatility, which allows them to mix-up their lineup and create matchup problems for opponents. But at No. 10 in the country, they are overrated. And now that they’re missing their point guard, they are susceptible to the upset.

The Bears need to do two things to win this game: Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe have to have big nights shooting the ball. Cal struggles to score without those two. And they need to be able to handle Oregon’s big front line. If they can do that, they’ll have a very good shot at pulling the upset.

Who else is on Upset Alert?

  • No. 22 San Diego State at Air Force (3:00 p.m. ET): The Aztecs are coming off of a 55-34 win at home against New Mexico last Saturday, but this Saturday they’ll be heading to Air Force to take on a surprising Falcons team that has a star in Michael Lyons, runs a difficult system to matchup with and is better than anyone expected them to be this season. SDSU better show up ready to play.
  • UNLV at Boise State (9:00 p.m. ET): UNLV is a team that’s still trying to figure out if they’re better off playing big — with Mike Moser at the three — or playing small — without Mike Moser coming off the bench. There’s not question that team has talent, but how that talent all fits together is something that Dave Rice is stil fine-tuning. Boise State, on the other hand, knows themselves. They have a bunch of guards that like to get perimeter jumpers up. They desperately need a win over the Rebels to turn around a rough stretch in their season. Will those jumpers be dropping Saturday?
  • No. 18 Kansas State at Oklahoma (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2): I really like this Oklahoma team. They have size and athleticism, they have big men that are tough to matchup with because of their perimeter ability, they have a go-to scorer in Steven Pledger and they have a lockdown defender in Buddy Hield. I think the Sooners are one of the most underrated teams in the country right now.
  • No. 15 Wichita State at Northern Iowa (4:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2): So much for Northern Iowa being one of the contenders in the Missouri Valley. But just because they aren’t going to win the league doesn’t mean they can’t pull off an upset or two along the way. The Panthers have the size to deal with WSU’s two JuCo big men and a pair of playmaking guards in the back court.
  • No. 5 Duke at Florida State (Sat. 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN): Here’s your chance, Florida State. You need to make a statement. You need to get that marquee win this season. You know you do, and on Saturday, you’re hosting a Duke team that’s missing Ryan Kelly and can’t defend like they used to earlier in the season. Maybe you should just play every possession like it’s a buzzer-beater and force-feed Michael Snaer.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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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.