Weekend Preview: Duke-Carolina Part Two, and which bubble teams have the most on the line?

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GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 3 Duke at No. 19 North Carolina, Sat. 9:00 p.m.

The first time these two teams got together this season, it was an instant classic. The Blue Devils jumped out to a huge lead in Cameron, only to see the Tar Heels not only erase that lead, but take a ten point lead of their own in the final six minutes. Duke responded, forcing overtime and eventually winning the best game of the season, 92-90. Carolina on the road will be a good test for Duke, as the Tar Heels are monsters on the offensive glass. That’s one of Duke’s weaknesses this season. One thing that will be interesting to watch is how Duke defends Marcus Paige. Will they face-guard him again?

THE OTHER GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 23 Ohio State, Sat. 4:30 p.m.

This will be Wisconsin’s final test before the regular season comes to an end, and it should be a good one. For starters, D’Angelo Russell is one of the few players that is good enough to take over a game against anyone, even one of the best teams in the country. The Badgers aren’t great defensively and can, at times, struggle with dynamic lead guards. Ohio State is also much smaller than Wisconsin, and while that should give them an advantage in the paint, it will make it tough to guard the Buckeyes.


  • No. 21 Butler at No. 24 Providence, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: The battle for second-best in the Big East. Butler is back to full strength with Andrew Chrabacsz back. If you haven’t seen Kris Dunn play, tune in.
  • Tulsa at No. 22 SMU, Sun. 3:00 p.m.: Not only is the title in the American on the line in this game, Tulsa’s at-large bid could end up going up in smoke if they lose this game.
  • Yale at Harvard, Fri. 8:00 p.m.: While this is the second-to-last game of the Ivy League season, this may as well be the title game. Yale and Harvard are tied for first place, with the winner of the regular season earning the Ivy’s automatic bid.
  • No. 9 Kansas at No. 15 Oklahoma, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: This game would have had a lot more intrigue if Kansas had lost to West Virginia. As it stands, the outright league title has been clinched and Kansas will be without Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander.
  • No. 2 Virginia at No. 16 Louisville, Sat. 6:30 p.m.: This is Louisville’s last chance in the regular season to prove that they can still beat one of the nation’s best teams.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: Stanford at No. 5 Arizona, Sat. 4:00 p.m.

This is a similar situation to what we saw at Gonzaga last week. Stanford is playing for their tournament lives. Arizona? They clinched the outright Pac-12 title on Thursday, their only motivation on Saturday being to better their profile for a No. 1 seed. Throw in the fact that it’s Senior Night, and the setting couldn’t be better for the Cardinal to pull off an upset.


  • LSU at No. 18 Arkansas, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: LSU really needs to add another win to their profile. As it stands, they’re showing up as Last Four In in many bracket projections.
  • Florida at No. 1 Kentucky, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: I don’t know if Florida can actually pull off this upset. I really only listed them here because there aren’t many better options this weekend. But hey, it’s Billy Donovan. Maybe I’ll look smart.
  • No. 10 Maryland at Nebraska, Sun. 7:30 p.m.: Nebraska’s Senior Night during a lost season. Will that be enough for the Huskers to finally wake up?
  • St. John’s at No. 4 Villanova, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: The Johnnies have been on a roll of late, and they actually matchup pretty well with the Wildcats.


1. There are two games on NBCSN and the NBC Sports Live Extra app this weekend:

  • UMass at George Washington, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
  • George Mason at VCU, Sat. 5:30 p.m.

2. In addition to the Ivy League, four other tickets to the Big Dance will be punched this weekend:

  • Ohio Valley (Saturday)
  • Atlantic Sun (Sunday)
  • Big South (Sunday)
  • Missouri Valley (Sunday)

3. There are two more de-facto regular season title games this weekend:

  • Georgia Southern at Georgia State, Sat. 2:00 p.m. (Sun Belt)
  • Sam Houston State at Stephen F. Austin, Sat. 7:30 p.m. (Southland)

4. Kansas State at Texas, Sat. 4:00 p.m.: Easily the weekend’s most interesting bubble game, as these are the nation’s two most surprising bubble teams. Texas because they fell from the top ten, and Kansas State because they were left for dead weeks ago.

5. And lastly, here are the rest of the weekend’s games with bubble implications:

  • Syracuse at N.C. State, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
  • Miami at Virginia Tech, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
  • Northwestern at Iowa, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
  • Michigan State at Indiana, Sat. 12:00 p.m.
  • Oklahoma State at No. 20 West Virginia, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • UConn at Temple, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • Alabama at Texas A&M, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • LSU at No. 18 Arkansas, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • Xavier at Creighton, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
  • Stanford at No. 5 Arizona, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • Georgia at Auburn, Sat. 4:00 p.m.
  • Illinois at Purdue, Sat. 4:30 p.m.
  • Davidson at Duquesne, Sat. 7:00 p.m.
  • Fresno State at Boise State, Sat. 8:00 p.m.
  • Colorado State at Utah State, Sat. 9:00 p.m.
  • Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, Sat. 9:00 p.m.
  • Memphis at Cincinnati, Sat. 12:00 p.m.


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

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.