Late Night Snacks: No. 3 Villanova, No. 5 Arizona and No. 11 Notre Dame among conference tournament winners

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 13 Iowa State 70, No. 9 Kansas 66

Despite trailing by as much as 17 Iowa State found a way to once again come back, as they worked out the kinks offensively to win their second consecutive Big 12 tournament title. Georges Niang scored 19 points and Abdel Nader added an important 13 off the bench for Iowa State.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. No. 11 Notre Dame 90, No. 19 North Carolina 82

Mike Brey’s Fighting Irish went on a 22-2 run in the second half as they beat the Tar Heels to earn their first ACC title in their second year in the conference. Jerian Grant 24 points and dished out ten assists, and Pat Connaughton scored 20 points as all five starters reached double figures. Marcus Paige scored 24 points and Brice Johnson added 20 for North Carolina.

2. No. 3 Villanova 69, Xavier 52

Villanova used a balanced effort to take care of the Musketeers in the Big East title game, and sixth man Josh Hart won Most Outstanding Player honors for the tournament. Hart shot 21-for-29 from the field in New York, and he’s just one of the many options that makes Jay Wright’s team one that is capable of winning the national title.

3. Wyoming 45, San Diego State 43

The fears of bubble teams across the country have been realized, as the Cowboys completed their run through the Mountain West tournament. It wasn’t a pretty game offensively, but both teams made life difficult on each other with some solid defense. Josh Adams, who won tournament MVP honors, hit a three with one minute remaining that gave Wyoming the lead for good.

4. No. 5 Arizona 80, Oregon 52

It’s safe to say that Arizona is not a good matchup for Oregon (or a lot of other teams for that matter). The Wildcats rolled to their first Pac-12 tournament title since 2002, and in three meetings with the Ducks they’ve won by a combined margin of eight points. Brandon Ashley led the way offensively with 20 points, making six of his eight shots from the field.

STARRED

1. Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter

The junior helped lead the Panthers back to the Sun Belt title game as he had 32 points and eight steals in a win over Louisiana Lafayette. Hunter was 11-for-22 from the field and also added five rebounds on the afternoon.

2. Stephen F. Austin’s Thomas Walkup

Walkup accounted for 24 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in the Lumberjacks’ Southland title win over Sam Houston State.

3. Montana’s Martin Bruenig

The Grizzlies fell short of their goal of winning the Big Sky, but Bruenig tallied 23 points and 17 rebounds in a four-point loss to Eastern Washington.

STRUGGLED

1. Purdue’s second half

After a solid first half from AJ Hammons, the Boilers were up five at the half and looked like they were in position for a potential upset. Then Wisconsin blew the doors off in the second half once Hammons picked up his fourth foul and Purdue never recovered. Purdue was outscored 41-16 in the second half.

2. Auburn’s K.T. Harrell

The senior guard will end his season with a 1-for-12 performance from the field and was 0-for-6 from the 3-point line. To his credit, Harrell wad 11-for-12 from the free-throw line, but Kentucky held Harrell in check and Auburn didn’t really stand a chance without him.

2. Rhode Island’s ball control

The Rams committed 21 turnovers, which were converted into 22 points by Dayton in the Flyers’ 56-52 win in the Atlantic 10 semifinal matchup.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • America East final: Peter Hooley hit a three-pointer with 1.6 seconds remaining gave Albany a one-point win over Stony Brook. It’s been a difficult season for Hooley, whose mother passed away from cancer earlier this year.
  • American semis: No. 20 SMU will play for the conference tournament title, as they took care of Temple 69-56. The Mustangs’ opponent: UConn, which received big shots down the stretch from Ryan Boatright, Daniel Hamilton and Rodney Purvis to beat Tulsa 47-42.
  • Atlantic 10 semis: The two teams picked to finish atop the conference standings before the season began will meet for the title on Sunday. VCU avenged a blowout loss at No. 24 Davidson with a 93-73 win over the Wildcats, and Dayton held off Rhode Island 56-52 in the other semifinal.
  • Big Sky final: Eastern Washington erased a nine-point second half deficit to win at Montana 69-65. Tyler Harvey scored 18 points and Drew Brandon added 16 for the Eagles, who are a team that can pull an upset next week.
  • Big Ten semis: No. 6 Wisconsin and Michigan State will meet in Sunday’s title game, as the Badgers turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 71-51 win over Purdue. The Spartans advanced with a 62-58 win over No. 8 Maryland.
  • Big West final: UC Irvine clinched its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, as they beat Hawaii 67-58 in Anaheim. Luke Nelson led three starters in double figures with 17 points, and the Anteaters have the ability to cause trouble for an opponent.
  • Conference USA final: UAB will make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011, as they beat Middle Tennessee 73-60 in Birmingham.
  • Ivy League playoff: A Steve Moundou-Missi jumper with just over seven seconds remaining gave Harvard a 53-51 win over Yale at The Palestra. Javier Duren’s runner in the final seconds rolled off the rim, and the Crimson will make their fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance as a result.
  • Mid-American final: In his second year at the helm Bobby Hurley has led Buffalo to the NCAA tournament as the Bulls beat Central Michigan 89-84 in Cleveland.
  • SEC semis: No. 1 Kentucky made short work of Auburn, racing out to a 15-4 lead and winning 91-67. The Wildcats will play No. 21 Arkansas in Sunday’s title game, as the Razorbacks limited Georgia to 32.7 percent shooting in their 60-49 victory.
  • Southland final: Brad Underwood’s Lumberjacks are back. Stephen F. Austin will make its second consecutive NCAA tournament, as they beat rival Sam Houston State 83-70. Thomas Walkup led four players in double figures with 24 points, and Jared Johnson contributed 17 points and five rebounds off the bench.
  • SWAC final: Texas Southern, which clinched the automatic bid last night, came back to beat Southern 62-58. Mike Davis’ team could be dangerous next week.
  • Sun Belt semis: Georgia State, which finished one win short of the NCAA tournament last season, is back in the title game after beating Louisiana 83-79. Georgia Southern will be their opponent, as the Eagles beat ULM 44-43 in the second game of the day.
  • WAC final: New Mexico State is headed to the NCAA tournament for a fourth straight year, as they beat Seattle 80-61 in Las Vegas. Remi Barry scored 21 points and Chili Nephawe added 18 points and ten rebounds. Also of note was senior guard Daniel Mullings, who accounted for eight points, seven assists and six steals while limiting Isiah Umpig to 13 points on 2-for-7 shooting (8-for-8 FT).

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.