Thursday’s Pregame Shootaround: Late night West Coast hoops worth waiting for

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 6 Arizona at San Diego State, 10:05 p.m. (CBS Sports)

The Wildcats will get their biggest test of the season tonight when they face off with Steve Fisher’s Aztecs. Both teams are still trying to figure out their rotations and the best lineups to work with. Sean Miller has started Aaron Gordon at the four, with three guards and Kaleb Tarczewski on the bench, and at the three. He even had the uber-athletic big man playing the two at one point on Monday night.

SDSU is in a tougher situation, as they are replacing so many important pieces from a season ago, most notably Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley. Is Winston Shepard ready to take on a bigger role this season? Will he be able to shoot the ball at all? The highlight of this one may be the matchup between Josh Davis and Aaron Gordon.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: Texas Southern at Miami, 7:00 p.m.

Mike Davis has himself some talent at Texas Southern this season. Aaric Murray ended up enrolling at the school after flaming out at both La Salle and West Virginia. Ray Penn, who started at Oklahoma State, is on the roster as well. And Miami? They lost to St. Francis NY and got taken to overtime by Eric Ferguson-less Georgia Southern

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: North Dakota State at St. Mary’s, 11:30 p.m.

This is about as good as it gets at the mid-major level this time of the year. NDSU is the favorite to win the Summit this season, as they bring back essentially their entire team from last season, including potential Player of the Year Taylor Braun. But the Gaels are the Gaels, and if there is anything we know about St. Mary’s, it’s that they keep winning even when they lose their star. Ask Omar Samhan and Mickey McConnell is Matthew Dellavedova’s loss will kill this team. They’ve already beaten Akron and Louisiana Tech at home.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

1) The No. 13 Memphis Tigers kick their inaugural season members of the American off tonight at 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3) against Austin Peay. This will be the debut of Missouri transfer Michael Dixon.

2) Boston College is good enough to make it back to the NCAA tournament this season, but it’s not going on that well this far. They’re 0-2 on the season with losses to both Providence and UMass. It doesn’t get much easier on Thursday night as the Eagles will take on Toledo at 7:00 p.m.

3) Northwestern heads out to Palo Alto to take on Stanford at 11:00 p.m. tonight on ESPN2 in a battle of former Duke assistant coaches. The Cardinal are coming off of a loss to BYU at home.

4) You want another upset pick? How about UC-Irvine at Washington. The Huskies will be without another big man as Jernard Jarreau tore his ACL, and the Anteaters are a favorite to win the Big West.

5) Texas Tech plays at Alabama at 9:00 p.m. on ESPN2 in a game that would probably be better if the football teams were playing basketball. I kid, I kid.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Detroit at No. 19 UConn, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • William & Mary at No. 16 Wichita State, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)

NOTABLES

  • UMES at Iowa, 7:00 p.m. (BTN)
  • Yale at Rutgers, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Temple at Towson, 7:30 p.m.
  • Indiana State at Belmont, 8:00 p.m.

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

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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.