Late Night Snacks: Seton Hall’s win over No. 3 Villanova highlights busy Thursday

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GAME OF THE DAY: Seton Hall 64, No. 3 Villanova 63

Conventional wisdom has three of the four one-seeds in the NCAA tournament spoken for, with Arizona, Florida and Wichita State being the teams occupying those spots. The fourth? That’s anyone’s guess at this point, and Villanova is seen as one of the possible options. But the Wildcats didn’t help themselves on Thursday afternoon, falling to eight-seed Seton Hall on a Sterling Gibbs jumper as time expired. Does this mean Villanova won’t get that one seed? The answer will depend on what happens in other conference tournaments, with multiple candidates still in action.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 10 Kansas 77, Oklahoma State 70 (OT) 

Playing without center Joel Embiid the Jayhawks needed an extra five minutes to beat the Cowboys, with Andrew Wiggins leading the way. Wiggins finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and three assists, continuing his recent run of excellent play. Wayne Selden Jr. added 14 points for Kansas, which takes on No. 16 Iowa State in a Big 12 semifinal. Le’Bryan Nash led four Oklahoma State players in double figures with 19 points.

2) Colorado 59, California 56

A 19-6 first half run gave the Buffaloes some needed separation, and Tad Boyle’s team will get a third shot at No. 4 Arizona on Friday. Askia Booker scored 17 points and Xavier Talton added 13 for Colorado, which looks to be on its way to the NCAA tournament as a result of this win. As for Cal, the Golden Bears lost five of their last seven to end the season and may have gone from being a tournament lock in February to the Postseason NIT.

3) Providence 79, St. John’s 74

With Bryce Cotton struggling with foul trouble the Friars needed someone to step up against St. John’s. Enter Josh Fortune, who scored 24 points to lead Providence to an important win at the Big East tournament. Four starters finished in double figures for Ed Cooley’s team, which advanced to the Big East semis and added a needed win to its NCAA tournament resume.

STARRED

1) Doug McDermott (Creighton) 

McDermott set a Big East tournament record by scoring 27 points in the first half of Creighton’s 84-62 win over DePaul. He finished the game with 35 points on 14-for-22 shooting, five rebounds and three assists.

2) Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

Racked up 30 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals in the Jayhawks’ 77-70 overtime win over Oklahoma State in a Big 12 quarterfinal.

3) Stephen Madison (Idaho)

Accounted for 26 points and 17 rebounds in the Vandals’ 73-70 win over Kansas City in a WAC quarterfinal.

STRUGGLED

1) Rutgers 

26 turnovers, 12 made field goals and 31 points in a  61-point loss to No. 5 Louisville in an American Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal.

2) Mike Gesell (Iowa)

Gesell shot 0-for-10 from the field in Iowa’s 67-62 loss to Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

3) UCSB

Remove Alan Williams (7-for-17 FG) and Michael Bryson (7-for-10) and the other Gauchos combined to shoot 2-for-22 in a 69-38 loss to Cal Poly in a Big West quarterfinal.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • American: Houston upsets SMU
    Thanks to wins over three of the other four top teams in the American, SMU’s seen as a team guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament. But outside of those wins (two over UConn and one each against Cincinnati and Memphis) there isn’t much on the Mustangs’ resume, which makes their 68-64 loss to Houston concerning. Nic Moore struggled for SMU, and TaShawn Thomas made some big plays late for Houston. Top-seed Cincinnati outlasted UCF, with Louisville beating Rutgers by a stunning 61-point margin and UConn outclassing Memphis.
  • Atlantic 10: Dayton, UMass avoid bad losses
    UMass is in good shape with regards to the NCAA tournament but a loss to rival Rhode Island likely would have impacted their seeding. The Minutemen won 65-61, joining Dayton (an 87-74 winner over Fordham) in avoiding a damaging result. The other winners on Thursday were St. Bonaventure (over La Salle) and Richmond (over Duquesne).
  • ACC: Bojanovsky’s dunk ends Maryland’s ACC tenure
    Maryland won’t officially move to the Big Ten until July 1, but a Boris Bojanovsky dunk with four tenths of a second remaining ended the Terrapins’ 61-year run in the conference. Florida State advances to play Virginia, and that game represents a great opportunity for the Seminoles. The other winners in Greensboro: Pittsburgh (over Wake Forest), N.C. State (over Miami) and Clemson (an overtime win over Georgia Tech).
  • Big 12: Baylor keeps rolling
    Scott Drew’s Bears have won nine of their last ten games, the most recent being a 78-73 win over Oklahoma in Kansas City. Next up for Baylor is Texas, which beat a West Virginia team that match up with very well for the third time this season. Kansas and Iowa State will meet in the other semifinal.
  • Big East: Xavier holds off Marquette
    How much work Xavier still had to do entering Thursday’s games was unknown, but their 68-65 win over Marquette certainly doesn’t hurt the Musketeers’ chances of receiving an at-large bid. Xavier will play two-seed Creighton in the semis, with the Bluejays beating DePaul 84-62. Seton Hall and Providence will meet in the first semifinal.
  • Big Sky: Portland State, Northern Colorado and North Dakota advance
    The Big Sky race was highly competitive this season and the first day of the conference tournament didn’t disappoint either. Portland State eliminated reigning champion Montana, joining Northern Colorado and North Dakota in the semifinals. Next up for the Vikings is top seed Weber State, which received a bye into the semifinals. Northern Colorado and North Dakota will meet in the other semifinal.
  • Big Ten: Northwestern drops Iowa
    The Hawkeyes have now lost six of their last seven games, and they’ll be limping into the NCAA tournament as a result. Northwestern won 67-62 with Tre Demps scoring 20 points and Drew Crawford 15. The other winners on Thursday were Illinois (over Indiana), No. 24 Ohio State (over Purdue) and Minnesota (over Penn State). The Golden Gophers are on the bubble, so earning a shot at Wisconsin can help their case if they take advantage.
  • Big West: Cal Poly steamrolls UCSB
    UCSB finished second in the Big West with a 12-4 conference record and had the look of a team capable of reaching the title game. Cal Poly had other ideas, beating the Gauchos 69-38. Next up for the Mustangs is top seed UC Irvine, which beat UC Riverside 63-43. Long Beach State and Cal-State Northridge will meet in the other semifinal, with the Matadors coming back to beat Hawaii 87-84 in overtime.
  • Conference USA: Southern Miss eliminates host UTEP
    Of the four teams that finished tied atop the C-USA standings Southern Miss drew the toughest quarterfinal matchup, with host UTEP being the opponent. Donnie Tyndall’s team took care of business, beating the Miners 64-56 to advance to the semifinals where they’ll play top-seed Louisiana Tech. The other winners on Thursday were Tulsa and Middle Tennessee.
  • MAC: Eastern Michigan wins again
    The Eagles are headed to the MAC semifinals after beating three-seed Buffalo, 69-64. Karrington Ward scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds for EMU, but the big story was the fact that the Eagles limited Javon McCrea to 2-for-13 shooting. They’ll take on two-seed Toledo in the semifinals, with Akron advancing to face top-seed Western Michigan on the other side of the bracket.
  • MEAC: No surprises on Thursday
    Coppin State’s win over Hampton on Wednesday was the only upset in the quarterfinals, with Morgan State and Norfolk State advancing on Thursday. Morgan State, which beat Florida A&M, will take on Coppin State Friday with the other semifinal matching Norfolk State and regular season champion North Carolina Central.
  • Mountain West: Preseason top four advance to the semifinals
    They didn’t finish the way the coaches expected them to back in October, but Boise State, New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV are all in the semis of the Mountain West tournament. Boise State beat three-seed Nevada, advancing to take on New Mexico with SDSU and UNLV in the other semifinal.
  • Pac-12: No. 4 Arizona, UCLA and Stanford roll
    Colorado’s win over California was the only result to provide any drama in Las Vegas, with No. 4 Arizona whipping Utah, UCLA dropping 82 points on Oregon and Stanford beating three-seed Arizona State by 21. Arizona and Colorado will meet in one semifinal, with UCLA and Stanford meeting in Friday’s nightcap.
  • SEC: Arkansas may have punched its ticket…to the NIT
    Arkansas has two wins over Kentucky on its resume, and after a 71-69 loss to South Carolina Mike Anderson’s team will find out just how much value there is in those wins. Missouri managed to escape a similar fate, beating Texas A&M in double overtime, with LSU and Ole Miss being the other winners on Thursday. The top four seeds, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia and Kentucky, begin play Friday.
  • Southland: Northwestern State, Sam Houston State advance
    There were no surprises in the quarterfinals, as Northwestern State handled Nicholls State and Sam Houston State beat Oral Roberts. Next up for the Demons is top-seed Stephen F. Austin, with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi awaiting Sam Houston State.
  • Sun Belt: UT-Arlington, UALR advance
    UT-Arlington and UALR advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over UL Monroe and Troy, respectively. Next up for the Mavericks is four-seed Arkansas State, and UALR will play three-seed Louisiana in the other quarterfinal. The top two seeds, Georgia State and Western Kentucky, have byes to the semifinals.
  • SWAC: Alabama A&M eliminates Arkansas-Pine Bluff
    Just one team ineligible for postseason play remained alive in the SWAC at the start of play on Thursday, but that would change with Alabama A&M’s win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. As a result of that outcome the remaining four teams are all eligible to play in the NCAA tournament, sparing the conference some embarrassment. Alabama A&M takes on Prairie View A&M in one semifinal, with Texas Southern and Alabama State meeting in the other.
  • WAC: Two-seed New Mexico State survives
    New Mexico State was the preseason pick to win the WAC, and they remain alive thanks to a 70-68 win over Seattle. Regular season champ Utah Valley advanced with a comfortable win over UTPA, with five-seed Idaho and six-seed Bakersfield joining them in the semifinals. Utah Valley and Idaho will meet in one semifinal, with NMSU and Bakerfield meeting in the other.

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

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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.