Tracking The Unbeatens: The showdown between Kentucky, Louisville looms

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Every Monday from now until every team in the country has a loss on their resume, we will be Tracking The Unbeatens, and predicting when, exactly, that unbeaten streak will end. You can follow along here.

Who lost last week?: No one that was undefeated heading into the week.

Kentucky (12-0): With each passing week, it’s looking increasingly likely that next Saturday’s date with Louisville will be the best — Last? Only? — chance for someone to pick off the Wildcats. Kentucky absolutely embarrassed UCLA over the weekend, taking a 41-7 lead into the break. This may be the most anticipated matchup in the nation’s most intense rivalry.

  • Next Game: Dec. 27 at Louisville
  • First Loss?: Dec. 27 at Louisville

Duke (10-0): The Blue Devils struggled to an ugly win over Elon last week before knocking off UConn in New Jersey on Thursday. Jahlil Okafor’s ability to distribute the ball out of the post makes this team just that much more dangerous offensively. At this point, I think we are all hoping for a Duke-Kentucky matchup at some point in the NCAA tournament.

  • Next Game: Dec. 29 vs. Toledo
  • First Loss?: Jan. 17 at Louisville

Arizona (12-0): The Wildcats survived a tough trip to El Paso, beating a scrappy UTEP team, and now head to Vegas next week to take on a talented UNLV squad. The real test for the Wildcats will be a stretch during Pac-12 play where they’re on the road for seven out of 11 games, including trips to Stanford, Cal, Utah, Washington and Colorado.

  • Next Game: Dec. 23 at UNLV
  • First Loss?: Feb. 13 at Washington

Virginia (11-0): Virginia set a record for fewest field goals allowed in the first half, as Harvard was 1-for-20 from the floor. In a 76-27 win, the ‘Hoos held the Crimson starter to 1-for-32 shooting.

  • Next Game: Dec. 30 vs. Davidson
  • First Loss?: Jan. 10 at Notre Dame

Louisville (10-0): Louisville has had a couple of close calls in recent weeks, barely hanging on against UNC-Wilmington and struggling to avoid an upset at Western Kentucky after Montrezl Harrell was tossed. I think we can be thankful that Harrell’s suspension did not include the Kentucky game.

  • Next Game: Dec. 23 vs. Cal St.-Northridge
  • First Loss?: Dec. 27 vs. Kentucky

Villanova (11-0): Villanova came very close to not being on this list anymore, as they needed to come back from 14 down in the second have — and five down in the final 10 seconds — just to force overtime against Syracuse on Saturday.

  • Next Game: Dec. 23 vs. NJIT
  • First Loss?: Jan. 19 at Georgetown

Washington (10-0): Is Washington the third-best team in the Pac-12 this season? It looks more and more like it every time they win. In their last four games, they’re now beaten San Diego State, Eastern Washington and Oklahoma.

  • Next Game: Dec. 22 vs. Tulane
  • First Loss?: Jan. 2 at Cal

Colorado State (11-0): Colorado State survived at Denver in one of the most impressive shooting performances you’ll see this season. The Pioneers were 17-for-31 from three.

  • Next Game: Dec. 22 vs. Charleston Southern
  • First Loss?: Jan. 3 at New Mexico

TCU (11-0): I guess there’s something to be said for beating teams you’re supposed to beat.

  • Next Game: Dec. 22 vs. Grambling
  • First Loss?: Jan. 3 vs. West Virginia

There five potential meetings between undefeated teams the rest of the season, although it seems unlikely that we will get more than one.

  • Kentucky at Louisville, December 27
  • Duke at Louisville, January 17
  • Duke at Virginia, January 31
  • Louisville at Virginia, February 7
  • Arizona at Washington, February 13

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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.