Late Night Snacks: Wisconsin takes Battle 4 Atlantis, Gonzaga wins NIT Tip-Off

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 Gonzaga 73, St. John’s 66

In the NIT Season Tip-Off championship game, Gonzaga held off St. John’s, which used a late-game comeback to narrowly pull off a massive win for the program on one of its home floors. Chris Obekpa’s foul trouble forced the Johnnies to play small ball giving the Zags a significant size advantage on the frontline. However, St. John’s combated its lack of size with quickness and some deep shooting from Phil Greene IV to put itself in a position to force overtime. Then this happened.

OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 2 Wisconsin 69, Oklahoma 56

The championship game of the best early-season featured an entertaining game between a Final Four favorite and a Final Four darkhorse. The Badgers turned a one-point halftime lead into a double-digit advantage to begin the second half after getting Frank Kaminsky, who picked up two early fouls, back on the floor. Wisconsin is playing extremely well heading into a ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup against No. 4 Duke. Oklahoma still has a talented starting five, but those pieces are still coming together.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Butler 64, Georgetown 58

The Bulldogs were picked to finish seventh in the Big East, but left the loaded Battle 4 Atlantis field with two victories. Two days after upsetting No. 5 North Carolina, the Bulldogs knocked off Georgetown in a November Big East battle (doesn’t count in conference standings). Kellen Dunham’s shooting improved for 17 points, as Butler got easy buckets against the Hoyas.

No. 5 North Carolina, No. 18 Florida

Who would have thought these two teams would be playing in the fifth-place game? North Carolina put forth some damage control after getting dominated on the glass by Butler on Wednesday to pick up back-to-back wins over UCLA and Florida before heading back stateside. As for Florida, this makes three losses in November. The Gators had three losses all of last season. Florida are still looking to get healthy and more from some of the underclassmen, but the schedule doesn’t get easier after the Bahamas, as No. 11 Kansas is waiting for them in Lawrence on Friday night.

UTEP 77, Xavier 73

Conference USA was a one-bid league a season ago, despite a four-way tie atop the league standings with Tulsa, Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech with 13-3 C-USA record. UTEP is projected to be Louisiana Tech’s chief competition for the top spot in the conference this season, and the Miners captured a huge win over Xavier, handing the Musketeers their first loss, to advance to the Wooden Legacy championship game.

STARRED

1) Wisconsin: The Badgers had five players score in double figures, assisted on 19 of 27 field goals and forced 21 Oklahoma turnovers. Another impressive performance by the nation’s No. 2 team.

2) Perry Ellis, Kansas: Went for 24 points and 13 rebounds in an Orlando Classic semifinal win over Tennessee. A much closer game than the final score indicates.

3) Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: The Spartans wing went for 25 points in a win over Marquette. During the Orlando Classic, he’s averaging 22.0 points, shooting 52 percent from the field and 61 percent from three.

STRUGGLED

1) Buddy Hield, Oklahoma: The native of Bahamas left Paradise Island with another tough shooting night, going 2-of-11 for only nine points in a loss to No. 2 Wisconsin in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game.

2) Florida: The Gators have lost three of five with a meeting at No. 11 Kansas coming up next Friday. Florida fell behind early to the Tar Heels and ended up shooting only Florida 33 percent from the field in a loss on Friday night.

3) Wake Forest: Danny Manning’s program suffered a loss to Delaware State, surrendering 32 points to Amere May. To make matters worse, the Hornets are coming off a 50-point loss to Iona, which also defeated the Demon Deacons.

TOP 25

  • No. 2 Wisconsin 69, Oklahoma 56
  • No. 5 North Carolina 75, No. 18 Florida 64
  • No. 8 Virginia 64, La Salle 56
  • No. 10 Gonzaga 73, St. John’s 66
  • No. 11 Kansas 82, Tennessee 67
  • No. 16 Ohio State 74, James Madison 56
  • No. 17 Miami 87, South Alabama 75
  • No. 20 Michigan State 79, Marquette 68
  • No. 22 UCLA 88, UAB 76
  • Ole Miss 75, No. 23 Creighton 68
  • No. 25 Arkansas 89, North Texas 73

NOTABLES

  • No. 8 Virginia jumped out to a big lead over La Salle in the Barclays Classic in Brooklyn. The Cavaliers play Rutgers on Saturday night. Game can be seen on NBC Sports Network
  • No Kris Dunn, no problem as Providence defeated Yale. The Friars will need their starting guard in their next game against Kentucky
  • Rakeem Christmas went for 25 points and eight boards in Syracuse’s win over Holy Cross
  • Ole Miss upset No. 23 Creighton in the Emerald Coast Classic
  • Minnesota held on to defeat Georgia, 66-62, in the NIT Season Tip-Off
  • After losing to two Big South opponents, Clemson picked up a victory against Big South favorite High Point
  • Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner each had 14 as N.C. State beat Boise State, 60-54
  • The winner of Long Beach State/Washington plays the UTEP in the Wooden Legacy final

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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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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.