(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas clinches their 12th straight Big 12 title

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Svi Myhailiuk scored 17 points and hit five threes as No. 2 Kansas knocked off Texas Tech, 67-58, on Saturday afternoon.

With the win, Bill Self is now the proud owner of a 12th consecutive Big 12 regular season title, which is the single-most incredible run in college basketball since Notre Dame ended UCLA’s 88-game winning streak 42 years ago.

To put that into context, Self’s first regular season title at Kansas came in 2005, his second season in Lawrence. That was the same year that YouTube was created, a year before the first tweet was ever tweeted and two years before the first iPhone was released.

And while Self has accomplished some impressive things during his time in Lawrence, this may be his best coaching job to date. This Kansas team does not have a first round draft pick playing a major role in their rotation — Myhailiuk until the last couple of weeks, Carlton Bragg and Cheick Diallo all play limited minutes off the bench — and, as of today, they are a full two games ahead of the field.

Should I mention that, according to KenPom.com’s ratings, this is the second-most difficult conference (behind the Big Ten in 2010-11) in the sport since the run began? I probably should mention that, right?

Here’s some other numbers that hopefully put into perspective just how dominant Kansas has been over the Big 12 in recent years:

  • The worst record that Big 12 record that Kansas has logged during this run was last season’s 13-5 finish. Every other team that has played in the Big 12 during that span — including former members Missouri, Texas A&M, Colorado and Nebraska — has had at least one losing season during that span.
  • Texas (2006 and 2008), Oklahoma (2005) and Kansas State (2013) are the only teams to even earn a share of the Big 12 crown in the last 12 years.
  • The Jayhawks, as of today, are 165-35 in Big 12 regular season games during this run. They’re 95-5 in Phog Allen Fieldhouse during that stretch.
  • The only current run that’s anywhere near comparable is Gonzaga winning 14 of the last 15 WCC regular season title. That included a stretch of 11 straight league titles from 2001-2011. But there’s a significant difference that needs to be mentioned here: The Zags did this as a top 10 program in a one bid conference.
  • In the last 12 years, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, UCLA and Indiana have won a combined 17 regular season league titles.
  • In addition to the 12 regular season titles, Kansas has also won six Big 12 tournament titles, giving them 18 league championships six 2005. UNC has won eight, Duke, Kentucky and UCLA have each won seven and Indiana has won just one.
  • The record for most consecutive league titles is 13, which UCLA accomplished starting in the late-’60s and ending in 1979, a run that saw three different people coach the Bruins.
  • Coach K has never won more than five straight league titles. Coach Cal has won five in a row as well. Roy Williams and Bobby Knight both won four in a row. Jim Calhoun once won three. Jim Boeheim once won two. Bill Self has won 12.
  • Three times during this run has Kansas won the Big 12 in a year where they had to replace their entire starting five: in 2006-07, in 2008-09 and in 2013-14.
  • He’s also won the league in three times when the best player in the country — Kevin Durant in 2007, Michael Beasley in 2008 and Blake Griffin in 2009 — were playing in the conference.
  • Kansas has had three Big 12 Player of the Year award winners: Wayne Simien (2005), Marcus Morris (2011) and Thomas Robinson (2012).

There are a couple of things that critics will always note. Early on during this streak, before the Big 12 did away with divisions, Kansas played in the weaker North Division, meaning they got the chance to beat up on Nebraska and Colorado — who, remember, were members of the Big 12 at one point — twice a year. They’re also the only Big 12 team to reach the Final Four during this time frame, and the Jayhawks themselves have failed to get out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament five times in the last 11 years.

But does that matter?

This streak is not a fluke. In the 23 years that Bill Self has been a head coach, he’s won 16 regular season titles. He finished second in his first season at Kansas, second in his last season at Illinois and third in his first season with Tulsa. He didn’t win a single regular season title in his four years at Oral Roberts because the Golden Eagles weren’t a member of any conference. And despite that fact, in a four-year span he took that program from six wins in his first year to 21 wins and a trip to the NIT in his last year.

There are kids currently in seventh grade that have never been alive in a year where Kansas did not win at least a share of the Big 12 title.

If that fact is lost on you, then I don’t think you are capable of being impressed.

We’re never going to see a run like this again.

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

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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.