Late Night Snacks: Bad night for bubble teams

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Game of the Day: Florida State 53, Virginia 51

This wasn’t the prettiest of basketball games but it did supply what seems to be a predictable outcome when Florida State has the ball and the chance to win in the final seconds. That’s Michael Snaer time, as his three-point play with 4.4 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Tallahassee.

The result means more for Virginia, who has now lost at both Boston College and Florida State after knocking off Duke in Charlottesville last Thursday. The Cavaliers host Maryland in their regular season finale, and as a result of their last two losses Tony Bennett’s team will arrive in Greensboro for the ACC tournament next week with a solid amount of work to do if they’re to get back to the NCAA tournament.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 10 Michigan State 58, No. 22 Wisconsin 43

The Spartans ended their three-game losing streak in East Lansing, and the hope among Michigan State fans has to be that the win will also be a step in the right direction for point guard Keith Appling. Appling scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half, and while he dished out just one assist the junior did not register a single turnover. Michigan State’s win guarantees Indiana the top seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament, and the Spartans remain a game behind the Hoosiers as they hope to grab a share of the regular season crown.

2. Georgia 72, Kentucky 62 

Multiple bubble teams suffered damaging defeats on Thursday and the young Wildcats were one of them, as they lost at Georgia by ten. Kentucky didn’t come out with the energy required to win on the road and it cost them, as John Calipari’s team was unable to overtake the Bulldogs in the second half. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 24 points to lead Mark Fox’s squad, which is now 9-8 in SEC play. Kentucky drops to 11-6, and their home game against No. 11 Florida on Saturday becomes even more important due to Thursday’s disappointing result.

3. New Mexico State 78, Louisiana Tech 60

The Bulldogs’ 18-game win streak came to a screeching halt in Las Cruces, and the result likely ended Louisiana Tech’s chances of grabbing an at-large bid should they not win the WAC tournament. Louisiana Tech did force 17 NMSU turnovers but overall the defense that has been a staple for Michael White’s team all year long failed to show up. The Aggies shot 54.7% from the field and Daniel Mullings was all over the box score, finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists to lead New Mexico State.

Starred

1. F Stan Okoye (VMI) and F Michael Kessens (Longwood) 

These two forwards were outstanding in the Big South quarterfinal between the Keydets and Lancers, which was won by VMI due in part to Okoye’s 31 points and nine rebounds. Kessens scored 36 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead Longwood in a losing effort.

2. G Josh Greene (Cal State Northridge) 

The Matadors won’t qualify for the Big West tournament but that didn’t matter as they beat Hawaii 88-75 with Green accounting for 37 points and six assists.

3. G Corey Hawkins (UC Davis)

Hawkins, who went off for 40 points and 12 rebounds in a win at Hawaii earlier this season, shot 12-of-19 from the field and scored 34 points (seven rebounds as well) in the Aggies’ 77-76 loss to Long Beach State.

4. F Xavier Johnson (Colorado) 

The Buffaloes were without the services of leading rebounder Andre Roberson but Johnson was one reason why his absence didn’t hurt Colorado, as he shot 7-of-7 and scored 22 points in a 76-53 win over No. 19 Oregon.

Struggled 

1. G Jontel Evans (Virginia) 

Rough night in Tallahassee for Evans, who scored two points on 1-of-8 shooting and dished out two assists in the Cavaliers’ 53-51 loss at Florida State.

2. F Alex Poythress (Kentucky) 

Poythress played just 19 minutes before fouling out in Kentucky’s 72-62 loss at Georgia, finishing with four points (1-of-3 FG), four rebounds and three assists. The Wildcats can’t afford for Poythress to have games in which he attempts just three shots.

3. G Chaz Williams (Massachusetts)

For UMass to have a shot at beating a team the caliber of Butler, Williams has to be the best player on the floor. Williams dished out eight assists and tallied four steals but also turned the ball over five times, scoring eight points on 2-of-9 shooting. Butler won, 73-62.

4. F/C Jared Berggren (Wisconsin) 

Berggren shot 2-of-9 from the field in Wisconsin’s 58-43 loss to Michigan State, finishing with six points, seven rebounds and four turnovers.

Top 25 Scores

No. 10 Michigan State 58, Wisconsin 43
Colorado 76, No. 19 Oregon 53

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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.