No. 11 seed Dayton pulls off Friday’s only upset in a win over No. 6 seed Providence

source: AP

One of the biggest stories of the 2015 NCAA Tournament has been Dayton’s run to the Round of 32. The Flyers continued its two-year run of March success with a 66-53 win over Providence on Friday night in the East Regional.

The Flyers were the only lower seed to win on Friday, a day after the NCAA Tournament was dominated by major upsets and nail-biting finishes.

Dayton (27-8) might have been the only double-digit seed to advance on Friday but controversy is perhaps the biggest reason why the Flyers are a major storyline so far this postseason. Many across the country viewed Dayton’s win over Boise State in the First Four as an unfair home game for the Flyers because they got to play on their home floor — where they were unbeaten in the regular season. While technically a neutral game, the arena was packed with Dayton fans that clearly gave the Flyers a boost as they finished the Broncos off on Wednesday with a 10-2 run to close the game.

Friday’s win over Providence didn’t do much to quiet the critics of Dayton.

With the game being played in Columbus, Ohio — only a short drive from Dayton’s campus — the heavily pro-Flyer crowd undoubtedly helped a weary Dayton team that was running low on gas because of its depleted roster of only six scholarship players.

Dyshawn Pierre paced the Flyers with 20 points and nine rebounds while Jordan Sibert had 15 points and Scoochie Smith chipped in 11. The criticism of Dayton continues to be mostly about its favorable “home” schedule so far in the tournament, but not nearly enough credit has been given to the Flyers for hitting big shots and playing tough defense on tough assignments.

Dayton’s defense did a number on Providence’s two stars, LaDontae Henton and Kris Dunn, as the duo combined to shoot 11-for-39 from the floor with eight turnovers. Henton (18 points, 11 rebounds) had a tough time finding consistency with his perimeter jumper while Dunn (11 points, four assists) could never get going thanks to an active Flyer defensive attack that swarmed and trapped a lot of high ball screens in the Providence offense. Jalen Lindsey also contributed 12 points for the Friars, who shot 33 percent (20-for-59) from the field on Friday.

Officiating didn’t make things any easier for the Friars. Providence (22-12) only went to the free-throw line seven times on Friday, while Dayton attempted 30 free throws. Ed Cooley was also given a very controversial technical foul late in the second half when it appeared he was just trying to fire up the Friars for a potential late-game run.

It’s easy to look at Dayton’s games within the state of Ohio and the questionable officiating as a product of only luck but the Flyers showed toughness and resiliency when they had to play a second highly-intense elimination game in under 48 hours against a talented Providence team.

The NCAA is giving the Flyers no favors on Sunday. Dayton may get the bigger crowd by being back in Columbus, but it has to play Oklahoma first among the two games in Nationwide Arena on Sunday. Having to bang down low with bruisers like TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler will be really tough for Archie Miller’s team to handle on a little over 40 hours of rest.

But for now, Dayton continues to survive and advance in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. This program made an Elite 8 run last season and the 2014-15 Flyer roster is peppered with players with postseason experience. Dayton might be exhausted on Sunday, but it would be foolish to count them out against Oklahoma.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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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

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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

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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.