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CBT Bracketology: Xavier climbs to the top line

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It’s almost March and the No. 1 seed lines remain an open book.  Kansas is best positioned to retain its slot on the top line, assuming the Jayhawks avoid a cluster of losses.  The remaining spots are more open for debate. Xavier is the latest newcomer – following Wednesday’s victory over Villanova.  Quietly, the Musketeers have compiled a resume worthy of top-seed consideration.  Keeping a spot won’t be easy, however.  North Carolina continues to push, as does a surging Michigan State team that is finally healthy.  Today, Oklahoma and Villanova hold the other No. 1 seed positions.

As it looks right now, a group of teams from the Atlantic 10 could have a lot at stake in the next two weeks.  Dayton is strongest positioned, and most likely safe, even as the Flyers teeter a little.  The next four – Saint Joseph’s, VCU, St. Bonaventure, and George Washington – all have various tasks remaining.  Although St. Joe’s is the final No. 7 seed today, the difference between the Hawks and VCU and St. Bonaventure (among the First Four OUT) is not nearly as deep as it appears.  In fact, it’s rather small –  which serves as a good illustration of where we stand in the middle and lower-end of the bracket.  To varying degrees, teams on seed lines 7-12 all have work remaining.

Consider Providence.  After losing five of six games and six of their past eight, the Friars find themselves among the last four teams with a bye (meaning just above the First Four).  Their last three games should be manageable, but their margin for error is fading – fast.

It could really get interesting if we have a few “upsets” during Championship Week.  How will the cutline look if a few teams like Little Rock, Monmouth, San Diego State, Valparaiso and even Hawaii or Chattanooga lose in the the championship games of their conference tournaments?  What if Gonzaga wins the West Coast tourney? Has Saint Mary’s done enough?  And what if an upstart – say a team like Mississippi State in the SEC – goes on a hot streak for three days?  Stay tuned.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 26, 2016

Teams in CAPS represent the projected AUTOMATIC bid. In the event of a tie in the loss column, RPI is first tiebreaker. Notes: To simulate actual bracket conditions, we’ve used current conference leaders to receive the automatic bid. Exceptions are made for teams that use an abbreviation (ex: UCLA)

Several new bracketing principles were introduced a couple of years ago. You can read them for yourself at http://www.ncaa.com. For example: teams from the same conference may now meet before a Regional final, even if fewer than eight teams are selected. The goal is to keep as many teams as possible on their actual seed line.

FIRST FOUR PAIRINGS – Dayton (First Round)

  • Cincinnati vs. Alabama | Midwest Region
  • Vanderbilt vs. Tulsa | South Region
  • BUCKNELL vs. WAGNER | West Region
  • HAMPTON vs. TEXAS-SOUTHERN | Midwest Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

MIDWEST – Chicago  WEST – Anaheim                                 
Des Moines Oklahoma City
1) KANSAS 1) Oklahoma
16) TX-SOUTHERN / HAMPTON 16) BUCKNELL / WAGNER
8) USC 8) Seton Hall
9) Pittsburgh 9) Oregon State
Oklahoma City Spokane
5) INDIANA 5) Baylor
12) MONMOUTH 12) SAN DIEGO ST
4) KENTUCKY 4) Utah
13) CHATTANOOGA 13) HAWAII
Spokane Des Moines
6) Purdue 6) California
11) Cincinnati / Alabama 11) LITTLE ROCK
3) OREGON 3) Iowa
14) S.F. AUSTIN 14) UAB
Brooklyn Raleigh
7) Texas Tech 7) Saint Joseph’s
10) Michigan 10) Providence
2) Miami-FL 2) Virginia
15) MONTANA 15) NEW MEXICO ST
SOUTH – Louisville        EAST – Philadelphia
St. Louis Brooklyn
1) Xavier 1) VILLANOVA
16) NORTH FLORIDA 16) WINTHROP
8) Wisconsin 8) Syracuse
9) Colorado 9) WICHITA STATE
Denver Denver
5) Duke 5) Texas
12) VALPARAISO 12) TEMPLE
4) Iowa State 4) Arizona
13) AKRON 13) STONY BROOK
Providence Providence
6) Texas A&M 6) Notre Dame
11) Vanderbilt / Tulsa 11) SAINT MARY’S
3) Maryland 3) West Virginia
14) HOFSTRA 14) PRINCETON
Raleigh St. Louis
7) DAYTON 7) South Carolina
10) Florida 10) Connecticut
2) NORTH CAROLINA 2) Michigan State
15) BELMONT 15) IPFW

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kansas is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Oklahoma, Villanova, and Xavier.  Next in line: North Carolina, Michigan State, Virginia, Miami-FL

Last Four Byes (at large): Providence, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan

Last Four IN (at large): Vanderbilt, Alabama, Cincinnati, Tulsa

First Four OUT (at large): VCU, St. Bonaventure, Butler, George Washington

Next four teams OUT (at large): Gonzaga, Washington, BYU, UCLA

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (7): NORTH CAROLINA, Virginia, Miami-FL, Duke, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pittsburgh

Pac 12 (7): OREGON, Utah, Arizona, California, USC, Colorado, Oregon State

Big 12 (7): KANSAS, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech

Big 10 (7): INDIANA, Michigan State, Maryland, Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, Michigan

SEC (6): KENTUCKY, Texas AM, South Carolina, Florida, Vanderbilt, Alabama

Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence

American (4): TEMPLE, Connecticut, Cincinnati, Tulsa

Atlantic 10 (2): DAYTON, Saint Joseph’s

West Coast (1): SAINT MARY’S

Mountain West (1): SAN DIEGO STATE

Missouri Valley (1): WICHITA STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Monmouth (MAAC), UAB (C-USA), Ark-Little Rock (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), Stephen F. Austin (SLND), Chattanooga (STHN), Hawaii (BWEST), Akron (MAC), North Florida (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Winthrop (BSO), Hampton (MEAC), IPFW (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Stony Brook (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Wagner (NEC), Texas-Southern (SWAC)

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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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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.