Pregame Shootaround: Eight more games NCAA Tournament games will decide the Sweet 16

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source: AP

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 5 Northern Iowa vs. No. 4 Louisville, 9:40 p.m. (TBS)

Just your standard Missouri Valley vs. ACC, 4-5 rivalry game to get into the Sweet 16. All joking aside, it’s always fun to see a quality “mid-major” program like 31- win Northern Iowa battle a power conference juggernaut like Louisville. Now we can finally see how the Panthers and MVC Player of the Year Seth Tuttle stack up against a team from a league that is currently doing very well in the NCAA Tournament. Louisville needs to hit shots from the perimeter and make sure Montrezl Harrell is doing enough on the interior to potentially get guys like Tuttle in foul trouble. Ben Jacobsen’s team won’t be fazed by the big-game setting. It may be five years ago, but Northern Iowa beating No. 1 seed Kansas in the Round of 32 is a blueprint for tournament success against a classic basketball powerhouse.

UPSET WATCH: No. 8 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Duke, 2:40 p.m. (CBS)

This has became a trendy upset pick since last weekend because the Aztecs match up with Duke about as well as anyone in the NCAA Tournament. Two of CBT’s staffers made this very upset pick in their brackets and if San Diego State gets even a hint of the perimeter shooting they had in the Round of 64 win over St. John’s then they’re way above the No. 8 seed they sit at. Duke closed out No. 16 seed Robert Morris in impressive fashion as well on Friday night. I know it’s a 1-16 game, and the Blue Devils are supposed to win with ease, but 32 field goals on 28 assists like Duke had on Friday is impressive against any Division I team. If San Diego State can double Jahlil Okafor and make things difficult, they could easily upset the Blue Devils. Remember when the Aztecs went into Lawrence, slowed down Joel Embiid and shocked a fully-healthy Jayhawk team? That same thing could happen here if Okafor is contained and San Diego State gets enough offense.


1) Wisconsin seems to be running into the same path as last season’s trip to the Final Four. While much has been made of the No. 1 seeded Badgers having to potentially play Arizona again in the West Regional final, Wisconsin also plays Oregon in the Round of 32 for the second consecutive year. Joseph Young is back for Oregon, but this Ducks team isn’t nearly as menacing as last year’s group — that still lost to Wisconsin.

2) People in the state of Kansas have wanted a Wichita State/Kansas game for the last two years with the recent national rise of the Shockers. They finally get to see it happen for a spot in the Sweet 16. The matchup at point guard between Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet and Kansas’ Frank Mason is key here.

3) Much has been made of No. 11 seed Dayton’s run of “home” games in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. They get a final game in nearby Columbus, but do they have enough gas in the tank to face No. 3 seed Oklahoma? Remember, this is the Flyers’ third tournament game this week and they only have six scholarship players — none of them above 6-foot-6. If the Sooners can get their interior of TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler going, it could be the end for Dayton.

4) An intriguing Round of 32 matchup as Tom Izzo’s surging Spartans battle No. 2 seed Virginia. Some believe Michigan State will advance past the Cavaliers, but it’s a strong sign for Virginia that Justin Anderson showed some signs of life in the opening-round win over Belmont. Anderson’s productivity could have a big impact on the outcome in this one.

5) Can Gonzaga make the Sweet 16? Mark Few has never made it past the Sweet 16 during his tenure and the Bulldogs would be one step closer to achieving that goal with a win over Iowa.


No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Virginia, 12:10 p.m (CBS)

No. 8 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Duke, 2:40 p.m. (CBS)

No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 2 Kansas, 5:15 p.m. (CBS)

No. 11 Dayton vs. No. 3 Oklahoma, 6:10 p.m. (TNT)

No. 7 Iowa vs. No. 2 Gonzaga, 7:10 p.m. (TBS)

No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 1 Wisconsin, 7:45 p.m. (truTV)

No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Maryland, 8:40 p.m. (TNT)

No. 5 Northern Iowa vs. No. 4 Louisville, 9:40 p.m. (TBS)

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

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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.