(AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

BUBBLE BANTER: Saint Joseph’s, Texas Tech land a critical résumé win

Leave a comment

Saint Joseph’s (KenPom: 38, RPI: 30, Bracket Matrix Seed: 9) may have just played their way into the NCAA tournament with a home win over Dayton on Wednesday night.

The Hawks have a weird profile. Their computer numbers are really strong despite the fact that they haven’t really played many opponents of note. They entered the night having played just seven top 100 opponents this season, posting a 3-4 record in those games. Their worst loss? VCU. That’s good. Their best win, however, was Princeton, an Ivy League program that needs a win on Friday night just to play their way into a tie for first place in that conference.

That’s what makes a win over Dayton so valuable.

The Flyers are currently 11th in the RPI.

This is an elite win, the kind of win that St. Joe’s can hang their résumé on and the kind of win that they had been missing this season.

This doesn’t mean that they’re a lock by any means, but it does put Phil Martelli’s team in a position where they are probably in the tournament with room to spare as of today. There are still some landmines left on their schedule, but as long as this team doesn’t do anything stupid down the stretch — like losing to UMass or Saint Louis — they’ll be OK.

WINNERS

  • Texas Tech (KenPom: 41, RPI: 31, BM: 10): Tech landed another critical win on Wednesday, beating Oklahoma in Lubbock. They’ve now won three straight — Iowa State, at Baylor, Oklahoma — and have a total of five top 50 wins on their profile. Throw in that just two of their nine losses have come against teams ranked outside the top 50, and Tubby Smith’s squad is probably in the 8-9 game as of today.
  • Alabama (KenPom: 73, RPI: 34, BM: First Four): The Bracket Matrix has this wrong. Alabama was in with room to spare before they went into Baton Rouge and knocked off LSU on Wednesday. The Crimson Tide have some truly impressive win this season — at Florida, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, South Carolina — and just one bad loss to their name. Perhaps more impressive is that Bama has now won five straight games.
  • Seton Hall (KenPom: 37, RPI: 49, BM: 10): The Pirates picked up a nice win over Georgetown on Wednesday, a win they really needed given the lack of an elite win on their profile. SHU has won at Providence (who hasn’t?) and they have seven top 100 wins now, but the best part of their résumé is probably that the Pirates don’t have a bad loss yet.
  • George Washington (KenPom: 91, RPI: 51, BM: Next Four): The Colonials could not afford a loss to anyone at this point, and they managed to come from 13 points down to win on the road.
  • Clemson (KenPom: 50, RPI: 87, BM: N/A): The Tigers didn’t lose to Boston College. That’s a win because the other option would have been a killer.

LOSERS

  • Temple (KenPom: 86, RPI: 66, BM: 11): The Owls lost at home to No. 1 Villanova on Wednesday night, which will sting. That was a chance to really solidify their NCAA tournament hopes and do so against an intracity rival. The bigger issue was that this was the last chance for the Owls to really land a win that would drastically improve their profile. Temple is headed for the cut-line whether they like it or not.
  • St. Bonaventure (KenPom: 65, RPI: 33, BM: Next Four): It’s hard to overstate just how bad Wednesday night’s loss at La Salle is for the Bonnies’ résumé. La Salle is 243rd in the RPI. It would not be so bad if St. Bonaventure had more than just a single top 50 win this season. That’s going to be really difficult to overcome.
  • LSU (KenPom: 55, RPI: 71, BM: First Four): Want to know how crazy this season is? The Tigers lost to Alabama at home tonight, and it’s not even going to be considered a bad loss. This makes LSU’s margin of error that much slimmer, but they should still be on the right side of the bubble.
  • Florida State (KenPom: 42, RPI: 48, BM: 11): The Seminoles lost at home to Georgia Tech on Wednesday night, which isn’t exactly and awful loss but given FSU’s lack of quality wins, this was not exactly a loss they could afford. Their bid is going to be determined by their last three games: at Duke, Notre Dame and Syracuse.
  • Syracuse (KenPom: 31, RPI: 37, BM: 8): The Orange got worked over pretty badly by a Louisville team looking to make a statement after losing two in a row last week. They can survive that. Their six top 50 wins and 7-8 record against the top 100 speaks for itself.
  • Colorado (KenPom: 63, RPI: 28, BM: 8): Losing at USC isn’t going to ruin Colorado’s profile, but Tad Boyle’s club is going to regret blowing a 15 point lead on the road.
  • No. 23 Providence (KenPom: 56, RPI: 31, BM: 7): The Friars aren’t quite in danger yet, but they’ve lost five of their last seven games and head on the road to a sneaky-good Seton Hall team next. They’re reeling. How long will it last?

 

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

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
1 Comment

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
7 Comments

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

Getty Images
4 Comments

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

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

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.