Thursday’s Snacks: The bubble bursts for a few teams; Iowa State, South Carolina win in dramatic fashion

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GAME OF THE NIGHT South Carolina 60, Ole Miss 58

It’s tough to describe the last 10 seconds of this game since both teams screwed up so badly by fouling 3-point shooters. In the end, Ole Miss was the last team to screw up by fouling Gamecocks guard Tyrone Johnson, so now the Rebels have to wait and see how the rest of the week unfolds before Selection Sunday. Oh, and Ole Miss might have sent Marshall Henderson into a permanent state of shock.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. Michigan 73, Illinois 55

Wave goodbye to the Illini’s NCAA Tournament hopes after barely showing up on Thursday afternoon in an ugly loss at the Big Ten Tournament. Illinois had terrible body language and minimal effort for a team fighting for its postseason life as the Illinois guards couldn’t buy a bucket. Aubrey Dawkins had 18 points to lead the Wolverines, who move on to face No. 1 seed Wisconsin in the Big Ten quarterfinals.

2. Auburn 66, Texas A&M 59

Texas A&M will also likely find themselves in the NIT as they collapsed after a 10-point halftime lead to lose to Auburn. K.T. Harrell led the Tigers with 25 points as the Aggies have now lost three straight games and four of its last five games. Selection Sunday won’t be a fun wait for Billy Kennedy’s team. Really nice stretch for Bruce Pearl’s club to start the SEC Tournament as this marks the first time they’ve won two straight SEC games all season.

3. No. 13 Iowa State 69, Texas 67

The Cyclones won on a buzzer-beater from Monte Morris and now the Longhorns will have to wait and see how the rest of the week unfolds before Selection Sunday. Morris finished with 24 points, five steals and three assists while Georges Niang added 22 points and six assists.

STARRED

1. Eastern Washington’s Tyler Harvey

The sophomore assassin dropped in 42 points in the Eagles’ Big Sky Tournament win over Idaho. The smooth lefty was 8-for-12 from 3-point range and 13-for-20 from the field.

2. The Hamilton Brothers: Isaac (UCLA) and Daniel (UConn)

With Kevon Looney only playing 10 minutes on Thursday, Isaac Hamilton stepped up his scoring production in a big way, going for 36 points in a Pac 12 Tournament win over USC. The guard was 13-for-17 from the field and 7-for-9 from 3-point range and also added four assists on the day.

Not to be outdone, younger brother Daniel Hamilton had 20 points to lead UConn to a win over South Florida in the American Tournament. Daniel was 6-for-8 from the field and 4-for-5 from 3-point range.

3. Northwestern State’s Zeek Woodley

The nation’s second-leading scorer had 34 points and nine rebounds in a Southland Tournament win over McNeese State. Woodley was 14-for-17 from the field and 3-for-5 from 3-point range.

STRUGGLED

1. Illinois guards

Ahmad Starks, Rayvonte Rice, Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn combined to shoot 11-for-41 from the field. The quartet was also 1-for-13 from 3-point range.

2. St. John’s D’Angelo Harrison

The senior guard was only 3-for-15 from the field and was limited to seven points in a loss to Providence. Harrison also had three turnovers on the day.

OTHER TOP 25 RESULTS

  • Six players finished in double figures for No. 2 Duke as they cruised past N.C. State in the ACC Tournament. Quinn Cook was the leader with 15 points.
  • No. 3 Virginia was in a battle for a little bit in the second half before putting down Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals. Justin Anderson made his return and Malcolm Brogdon scored all 10 of his points in the game’s final 9 minutes.
  • No. 4 Villanova raced past Marquette for an easy win in the Big East quarterfinals as Josh Hart had 20 points and five 3-pointers.
  • No. 5 Arizona got past Cal in the Pac 12 Tournament as Stanley Johnson had 19 points and seven rebounds. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also chipped in 10 points and did this.
  • No. 9 Kansas escaped with a win over TCU as Kelly Oubre had 25 points and was 15-for-19 from the free-throw line.
  • In a battle of top-25 teams in the Big 12 Tournament, No. 16 Baylor got the best of No. 18 West Virginia as Royce O’Neale led with 16 points. The Mountaineers were once again playing without senior guard Juwan Staten.
  • In the ACC, No. 19 North Carolina bested No. 14 Louisville as Brice Johnson had 22 points and seven rebounds.
  • In the Mountain West Tournament, No. 25 Boise State got past Air Force as Nick Duncan had 23 points.
  • Xavier held off No. 22 Butler for an overtime win in the Big East Tournament as Dee Davis, Myles Davis and Matt Stainbrook all had 13 points each. The win should put the Musketeers safely in the field of 68.
  • It was close late but No. 23 Georgetown outlasted Butler to win in the Big East Tournament. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 25 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field.

NOTABLES

  • Huge win for Indiana over Northwestern as they keep their NCAA Tournament bubble from bursting. James Blackmon Jr. had 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds to lead the Hoosiers.
  • Joseph Young had 30 points to carry Oregon past Colorado in the Pac 12 Tournament quarterfinals.
  • Ohio State held off Minnesota as D’Angelo Russell had 23 points, five rebounds and four assists. Shannon Scott also had a career-high 21 points for the Buckeyes.
  • Penn State continued its winning ways in the Big Ten Tournament with a win over Iowa. D.J. Newbill had 18 points to pace the Nittany Lions.
  • San Diego State earned a close win over UNLV as Aqeel Quinn had 21 points and five rebounds.
  • Double-doubles from LaDontae Henton (20 points, 12 rebounds), Kris Dunn (17 points and 11 assists) and Ben Bentil (14 points, 13 rebounds) pushed Providence past St. John’s in the Big East quarterfinals.
  • Florida got past Alabama in the SEC Tournament as Dorian Finney-Smith had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the victory.
  • Five double-figure scorers propelled UTEP past FIU in the Conference USA quarterfinals. Julian Washburn led the way with 19 points.
  • VCU defeated Fordham in the A-10 Tournament as Treveon Graham had 22 points and nine rebounds.
  • Wyoming picked up a Mountain West quarterfinal win over Utah State as Josh Adams led with 19 points and six assists.
  • Tennessee knocked off Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament as Josh Richardson had 22 points and six rebounds.
  • George Washington used a balanced effort to get past Duquesne as Kevin Larsen had 10 points and 15 rebounds in the win.

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

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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.