Weekend Preview: Duke-Virginia, an MVC showdown and UNC-Louisville

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 4 Duke at No. 2 Virginia, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

Does it really get better than seeing a pair of top five teams square off? Duke has had their issues this season, losing three of their last six games and falling at Notre Dame on Wednesday, but this is still a team with the nation’s most dominating interior presence and more than enough fire power around their perimeter. What will be fascinating is to see how Virginia tries to slow down Okafor. The Cavs love to bring a big-to-big double immediately on the catch, but Okafor is one of the best passers out of the post that you will see at this age.

There will be plenty of storylines heading into this game as well. Virginia will be entering the most difficult stretch of their schedule this season — after Duke, they play at North Carolina, get Louisville at home and head to N.C. State — while Duke will be playing their first game in the post-Rasheed Sulaimon era.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 12 Wichita State at No. 18 Northern Iowa, Sat. 4:00 p.m.

It’s off the radar a little bit but the Shockers have their first legitimate challenger in the Missouri Valley Conference since Creighton left for biggest and better things in the Big East. Northern Iowa is a well-coached, tough team that has some shooters, will get physical defensively and has a MVC Player of the Year candidate in Seth Tuttle. The Shockers are not the same team without Cleanthony Early, but they were also one of the best teams in the country last season. Both Wichita State and UNI are top 20ish teams that are good enough to make a run at the second weekend of the NCAA tournament. This game will go a long way towards determining who is going to win the league’s regular season title.

For the record, big conference showdowns in the Missouri Valley are always must-see TV for any college hoops fan. This will be worth the two hours.


  • No. 13 North Carolina at No. 10 Louisville, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: The last time these two teams squared off, Marcus Paige spurred on a 13-point comeback late in the second half as the Tar Heels picked up a much-needed win. The Cardinals are rolling now, however. This should be a great game.
  • No. 19 Texas at No. 20 Baylor, Sat. 6:00 p.m.: Texas really needs a win after a rough start to Big 12 play. And Baylor? There’s no team that I’m more torn on in the country than Baylor.
  • Kansas State at No. 9 Kansas, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: The Wildcats have to pick up a couple of wins like this to make up for a rough non-conference schedule. Kansas looked like they were hitting their stride before an ugly win at TCU.
  • Richmond at No. 14 VCU, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: This is one of the nation’s most-under appreciated rivalries. The Battle for Richmond is intense, both between the teams and the fan bases.
  • George Washington at Rhode Island, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: GW and URI are probably the second and third-best teams in the Atlantic 10 this season. The league may only get one at-large bid. This game is going to mean a lot in the conference race.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 5 Wisconsin at Iowa, Sat. 12:00 p.m.

Iowa has the talent to be a top 20 team this season, but they’ve had issues closing out games for what feels like the last decade (probably closer to the last season and a half, but whatever). They were absolutely buried at Wisconsin two weeks ago, but during that game, Adam Woodbury twice poked a Wisconsin player in the eye. The announcer during the game — Dan Dakich — lit into him, which drew the ire of Fran McCaffery. In other words, Iowa has plenty of motivation to, you know, show up tonight.

One note: Aaron White has an injured shoulder/upper chest. He told reporters that he’ll play. McCaffery said he has to be cleared to play still. We’ll see what happens.


  • No. 8 Notre Dame at Pitt, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: The Peterson Events Centers is always a tough place to play, and Notre Dame is coming off of a huge win over Duke. Do they get complacent?
  • No. 23 Miami at Florida State, Sun. 12:30 p.m.: As Angel Rodriguez goes, so goes the Hurricanes. He’s got all-american talent, but lacks consistency.
  • No. 24 Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Sat. 8:00 p.m.: Bedlam!
  • No. 25 Butler at Marquette, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Marquette is putting up a fight on a nightly basis in Milwaukee. When Matt Carlino and Duane Wilson get it going offensively, they can play with anyone in their building.
  • No. 7 Villanova at DePaul, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: This would normally be a weird pick to make, but DePaul has been feisty at home this season.


1. Davidson at Saint Joseph’s, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: A little Saturday afternoon action on NBCSN. You can stream the game here.

2. Auburn at Tennessee, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: Bruce Pearl will be coaching his first game in Knoxville since getting fired back in 2011.

3. Memphis at No. 3 Gonzaga, Sat. 10:00 p.m.: Memphis desperately needs this win if they are going to have any chance of earning an at-large bid this season.

4. Michigan at Michigan State, 1:00 p.m.: This rivalry is really intense. The game this season, however, will be between two teams that are not playing their best.

5. Providence at St. John’s, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: Providence guard Kris Dunn is playing as well as anyone in the country right now. He had a triple-double — 27 points, 13 boards and 11 assists — in a win over DePaul on Thursday. St. John’s is reeling.

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.