Sunday’s Snacks: Coastal Carolina, Northern Iowa and North Florida headed to NCAA tournament

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GAME OF THE DAY: William & Mary 92, Hofstra 91 (2OT)

Marcus Thornton, who scored 37 points, forced overtime by making two free throws with 23 seconds remaining in regulation, and his pass to Daniel Dixon led to the game-winning three with eight tenths of a second remaining in double overtime. Thornton’s point total is a CAA tournament single-game record, and Omar Prewitt added 33 points as the Tribe moved to within one win of its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Juan’ya Green led the Pride with 26 points and seven assists, and Dion Nesmith added 21 points and five assists before fouling out. Not only was this the game of the day, but it was also one of the best games of the season to date.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. No. 11 Northern Iowa 69, Illinois State 60

Bubble teams across the country can breathe a sigh of relief (for the time being), as the Panthers erased a 14-points halftime deficit to win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Seth Tuttle, who was held in check in the first half, got going in the second and finished with 15 points and nine rebounds and Nate Buss added 15 points off the bench. And Jeremy Morgan’s contributions can’t be overlooked either, as he hit two key three-pointers during UNI’s early second half surge. Daishon Knight scored 16 points and Deontae Hawkins added 14 for the Redbirds, who may have played their way into an NIT berth with their showing this weekend.

2. No. 6 Wisconsin 72, No. 23 Ohio State 48

The Badgers capped their regular season with a dominant win in Columbus, and outside of the Buckeyes closing to within ten early in the second half this one wasn’t all that close. Frank Kaminsky scored 20 points and Bronson Koenig added 15 for Wisconsin, which will be the top seed in the Big Ten tournament. Ohio State’s loss means that Purdue will be the four-seed, and they get the final double-bye in Chicago as a result.

3. No. 10 Maryland 64, Nebraska 61

The Terrapins capped their inaugural season in the Big Ten with a 14th victory, as they beat the Huskers in Lincoln. Melo Trimble accounted for 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists, and Dez Wells posted a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the way. Maryland, which has won seven straight games, will go into the Big Ten tournament as the two-seed. As for Nebraska, they’ll be the 12-seed and their loss makes Minnesota the 11-seed.

STARRED

1. William & Mary’s Marcus Thornton

Thornton scored 37 points and grabbed six rebounds in the Tribe’s 92-91 double overtime win over Hofstra.

2. Iona’s A.J. English and Isaiah Williams

Enghlish scored 29 points and Williams 27 in the Gaels’ 95-77 win over Monmouth. The two combined to shoot 16-for-25 from beyond the arc.

3. Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney

Warney tallied 24 points, 14 rebounds and three assists in the Seawolves’ 79-77 win at Vermont to advance to the America East title game.

4. South Dakota’s Brandon Bos

Bos shot 7-for-12 from the field and 10-for-11 from three, scoring a career-high 29 points in the Coyotes’ 82-73 win over Fort Wayne. Bos also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out five assists.

STRUGGLED

1. Ohio State’s Sam Thompson

While Thompson did grab six rebounds, he scored just two points and shot 0-for-7 from the field.

2. Mercer’s Jibri Bryan and Phillip Leonard

The guards struggled in the Bears’ 52-49 loss to Furman, combining to score six points (all by Leonard) on 1-for-16 shooting from the field.

3. Western Carolina’s James Sinclair Jr. 

Sinclair Jr. scored 16 points in the Catamounts’ loss to Wofford, but he did so on 5-for-19 shooting from the field.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 22 SMU won its first regular season conference title since 1993, as they beat Tulsa 67-62 in Dallas. The Mustangs won despite Tulsa’s James Woodard going off from three, as he shot 10-for-16 from beyond the arc and scoring 30 points.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • America East semis: Stony Brook will get another shot at earning that elusive NCAA tournament berth, as they won 79-77 at Vermont with Jameel Warney scoring 24 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. They’ll visit regular season champion Albany next Saturday, as the Great Danes held off New Hampshire 60-58. Will Brown’s team is looking to make its second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
  • Atlantic Sun final: North Florida will make its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, as they beat USC Upstate 63-57 in Jacksonville. Matthew Driscoll’s team went on a 12-0 second half run after the Spartans took a 48-44 lead with 9:13 remaining.
  • Big South final: Cliff Ellis’ Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will make their second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, as they beat Winthrop 81-70. Warren Gillis tallied 22 points and six assists, and Elijah Wilson added 19 off the bench to lead the way for the Chanticleers.
  • MAAC semis: Top-seed Iona made a MAAC tournament single-game record 19 three-pointers in their 95-77 win over Monmouth. Isaiah Williams was responsible for nine of those makes, scoring 27 points on 9-for-15 shooting from deep. And for the third consecutive year Iona will take on rival Manhattan in the title game, as the Jaspers eliminated Saint Peter’s. Iona won in 2013, with Manhattan returning the favor last season.
  • Patriot semis: Both road teams won Sunday, with Lafayette beating regular season champ Bucknell 80-74 and American winning 73-62 at Colgate. Lafayette will host the title game Wednesday night. Bucknell’s loss means that this is the first time in the history of the Patriot League tournament that the top seed has not at least reached the final.
  • SoCon semis: Top-seed Wofford is now one win away from its second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, as they beat Western Carolina 73-61. Spencer Collins led the way for the Terriers with 17 points, shooting 10-for-13 from the foul line. They’ll take on 10-seed Furman on Monday, as the Paladins (the lowest seed in the tournament) continued their improbable run through the tournament with a 52-49 win over Mercer.
  • Summit quarters: Brandon Bos scored 29 points as South Dakota beat Fort Wayne 82-73. The Coyotes led by 19 at the half, but the Mastodons scored 50 second-half points to close the gap. Also advancing was Oral Roberts, which made eight of ten free throws over the final 38 seconds to hang on for a 58-56 win over IUPUI. Monday’s semifinals: No. 1 South Dakota State vs. No. 5 South Dakota, No. 2 North Dakota State vs. No. 3 Oral Roberts.

NOTABLES

  • D.J. Newbill’s three-pointer as time expired gave Penn State a 79-76 win over Minnesota, which has now lost eight conference games by six points or less. On Wednesday the Nittany Lions (13-seed) will take on Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, and Minnesota (11-seed) will play Rutgers the same day.

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
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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.