Pregame Shootaround: Sunday has some solid games including four ranked teams in action

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source: AP
AP

GAME OF THE DAY: Tulane vs. No. 17 St. John’s, 12:00 p.m.

The opening game of Sunday also happens to be the most enticing matchup: a decent Tulane team against 10-1 St. John’s. The Green Wave have a solid 9-2 record but the schedule has been filled with easy victories against bad teams. It is encouraging that Tulane took unbeaten Washington deep into the second half on the road last week even though the team’s leading scorer, guard Louis Dabney, was 2-for-13 from the field. St. John’s has won six consecutive games and D’Angelo Harrison is playing tremendous basketball in his senior season. If both those guards get rolling this could be a great way to start the day.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: UCLA at Alabama, 6:30 p.m.

Both of these teams could really use a win as the Bruins are still coming off of the Kentucky embarrassment and Alabama is reeling from a loss where they blew a lead in the final minutes at Wichita State. So, are these teams for real? Are they NCAA Tournament contenders? Each group has talented players, although UCLA is even thinner with the loss of Wannah Bail for the season. The Crimson Tide (8-3) are a perfect 7-0 at home on the season while UCLA has yet to play a true road game. The key in this one could be if Alabama can keep center Jimmie Taylor on the floor. Their defense fell apart when he fouled out against the Shockers.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: South Dakota State at No. 23 Northern Iowa, 3:00 p.m.

South Dakota State (9-4) is looking like a legitimate contender in the Summit League and they recently beat Utah State on the road and played against Utah on the road as well. They won’t be phased after a tough two-game road split to start this trip. But they’re in for a tough test against Missouri Valley Conference contender Northern Iowa. The Panthers take smart shots and have a complete defense so they’re going to make South Dakota State work for every point and it should be an interesting test for both teams.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR: 

  • Wisconsin, the No. 6 team in the country, hosts Buffalo. The Bulls made it a game with Kentucky for a half and Justin Moss is averaging a double-double with 17.3 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
  • One of college basketball’s last unbeatens, No. 13 Washington, hosts Stony Brook on Sunday. The Seawolves have lost eight straight road games dating back to last season but Carson Puriefoy and Jameel Warney are a talented duo.
  • Florida Gulf Coast has talent and an experienced backcourt, but they haven’t pulled off a signature win this season. Xavier is unbeaten at home, but very inexperienced. Can the Musketeers continue to shoot a high percentage in what should be a run-and-gun game?
  • Arizona State could use another good win and Harvard was completely embarrassed by Virginia last week. The Crimson really need to bounce back in this one.
  • Belmont finally broke a three-game losing streak with a win over Fairfield and they’ll get a crack at Butler, who dropped out of the top 25 after losing two of its last three. Craig Bradshaw is a potent enough scorer to carry the Bruins to a win if this game is low scoring.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES:

  • Central Connecticut State at Connecticut, 1:00 p.m.
  • Long Beach State at Syracuse, 2:00 p.m.
  • Morgan State at Marquette, 2:00 p.m.
  • Texas Southern at Kansas State, 3:00 p.m.
  • Northwestern State at Arkansas, 3:30 p.m.
  • Wake Forest at Richmond, 4:00 p.m.
  • Delaware State at Temple, 5:00 p.m.
  • UC Davis at Washington State, 6:00 p.m.
  • CSU Bakersfield at Cal, 10:00 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.