Bubble Banter: Wild night in the Atlantic 10, Indiana in trouble?

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WINNERS

  • Davidson: The Wildcats landed a big win on Wednesday, both for their bubble hopes and for their A-10 title hopes. They went into the Ryan Center and knocked off Rhode Island, putting them in a tie — with URI — for first place in the league standings. The win also moves them a step closer to the bubble, adding a top 100 road win is not a bad thing, but they’re still a ways away from the cut line.
  • Miami: The Hurricanes avoided a disastrous loss against Florida State, but it may have been too little, too late. Miami has an RPI that’s approaching the 70’s, four sub-100 losses and just two top 50 wins. The only reason they’re still in the conversation? That win at Duke. That glorious, glorious win at Duke. Saturday’s loss at Louisville, where Miami blew a big first half lead and had a chance to win at the buzzer, is going to really, really hurt. The Hurricanes have to beat North Carolina on Saturday.
  • Dayton: The Flyers avoided a potential stumbling block in George Mason, but after getting beaten by Duquesne last weekend, Dayton has yet to lock up a bid. The good news? All of their final three games — at VCU, Rhode Island, at La Salle — are potential good wins.
  • Georgia: The Bulldogs won at Ole Miss, picking up a top 50 road win they desperately needed to add to their resume. Georgia now has three top 50 wins and an 8-5 record against the top 100 to go along with their four sub-100 losses. They’re in as of today, and probably avoid the play-in game, but they’re not safe enough to be able to withstand a loss to Missouri or Auburn. The Bulldogs also get one more shot at Kentucky at home, a win that would lock up their bid.
  • Iowa: Have the Hawkeyes finally figured things out? Back-to-back blowout wins led to Wednesday’s 68-60 win over Illinois, which didn’t do all that much to solidify Iowa’s tournament standing. The important thing, however, is that their stretch of five losses in seven games is now a fairly distant memory. Iowa has three games left this season, and while they’ve got a bit of a cushion on the rest of the bubble, a remaining schedule that includes two sub-100 teams — and a reputation for inconsistency and collapses — means nothing is certain.
  • Oregon: Sunday’s win over Utah was the game-changer for the Ducks, a marquee victory that they could hang their otherwise-mediocre profile on. That win bumped them up into most bracket projections with some room to spare, but they’re hardly a lock even after winning at Cal on Wednesday. With road trips left against Stanford and Oregon State, there is still the chance to slip-up. Neither of those losses are bad losses, however, and with an 8-7 record against the top 100 — and just one bad loss, at Washington State — Oregon probably needs just two more wins, either in the regular season of the Pac-12 tournament, to assure themselves a ticket to the dance.
  • UCLA: The Bruins are in a much tougher position that the Ducks, as they whiffed on their chance to land an elite win over the weekend. Beating Washington on Wednesday gets them to 17-12 on the season, but with just two top 50 wins and a 7-11 record against the top 100 — and no top 100 opponents left — the Bruins have to win out and win in the Pac-12 tournament to have a chance.
  • Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane smacked around Tulane on Wednesday night, keeping pace with SMU atop the American standings. Avoiding that loss was almost as big as landing a win over Temple over the weekend. Tulsa’s at-large bid will be earned in their final three games, as they play at Memphis, Cincinnati and at SMU. On the season, Tulsa has just two top 50 wins (both Temple), four top 100 wins and one really bad loss at Oral Roberts. They’re going to be in the last four in or first four out of every bracket projection you see.
  • Colorado State: The Rams beat San Jose State on Wednesday. They still need to survive trips to Nevada and Utah State. They only have two top 50 wins and four top 100 wins, but a 22-5 record and good computer numbers should be enough to get them in barring a slip-up.
  • Cincinnati: The Bearcats avoided their second straight land mine by knocking off Central Florida on Wednesday night, and they’ll need to get past one more — at Tulane — before they’re done. The Bearcats have five top 50 wins, which puts them a cut above the rest of the bubble, but thanks to losses to East Carolina and Tulane this month, they still have work to do.

LOSERS

  • Indiana: The Hoosiers lost on Northwestern on Wednesday, meaning that they we are back to mentioning them in Bubble Banter. It’s the first bad loss on Indiana’s profile, and with five top 50 wins and eight top 100 wins on their resume, there is a lot to like here. Win one of their last two — home for Iowa and Michigan State — and the Hoosiers will be fine. Lose out, and lose in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, and things will get interesting.
  • Illinois: The Illini have now lost three straight after falling at Iowa, putting them at 17-11 overall and 7-8 in the Big Ten. They need to go at least 2-1 down the stretch — Northwestern, Nebraska, at Purdue — to keep themselves in a good position, but I’m not sure that a sweep will be enough to lock them into a bid before the league tournament starts.
  • Ole Miss: The Rebels lost to Georgia at home, a loss that hurts them less than it helps the Bulldogs. Ole Miss is pretty safe in a lot of brackets, but I think the Rebels are at more risk than some folks realize. They have just three top 50 wins and three sub-100 losses.
  • Rhode Island: Rhode Island lost to Davidson at home, a loss that really hurts their chances of making up ground on the teams in front of them in bubble standing. The good news? They still have top 100 road games at La Salle and at Dayton on their schedule. The bad news? They need to beat good teams on the road in league play to really have a chance at an at-large bid.
  • UMass: If the Minutemen weren’t finished already, they are now after losing to St. Joe’s.

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.