AP Photo/Gerry Broome

SATURDAY’S SNACKS: No. 8 North Carolina wins at Duke, No. 4 Virginia rolls

Leave a comment

GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 8 North Carolina 76, No. 17 Duke 72

The North Carolina seniors picked up their first win at Cameron, as they held off a furious Duke rally. Brice Johnson finished with 18 points and 21 rebounds, and Kennedy Meeks added 12 and 14 boards as the Tar Heels grabbed nearly 47 percent of their available missed shots. Those second chance opportunities helped UNC make up for their 35.6 percent shooting from the field.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 1 Kansas 85, No. 21 Iowa State 78: The Jayhawks closed out the regular season with their 11th consecutive win, finishing the game on a 17-7 run. The Jayhawks have emerged as one of the favorites to win the national title, and they’ve got the tools needed to complete that mission.

No. 20 Texas A&M 76, Vanderbilt 67: Texas A&M picked up a share of the SEC title with a home win over the Commodores. I have more on this one here and why Texas A&M needs the SEC tournament next week.

No. 4 Virginia 68, No. 11 Louisville 46: The Cavaliers put forth one of their best defensive efforts of the season as they beat the Cardinals in Charlottesville. Malcolm Brogdon scored 17 points and Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey 15 apiece, with Tobey also grabbing a career-high 20 rebounds. Virginia’s improved defensively, and this was a bad matchup for the Cardinals.

Northern Iowa 57, Wichita State 52 (OT): The Shockers will have an uneasy wait for Selection Sunday, as they fell to UNI in the Missouri Valley semifinals. Gregg Marshall’s team will be an interesting case study, as their résumé doesn’t have much in the way of quality wins. The Panthers will face No. 2 Evansville in Sunday’s title game.

BUBBLE BANTER: See how Saturday’s results factored into the bubble

STARRED

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: Senior Day in East Lansing. Like Denzel wasn’t going to have a huge game? The Player of the Year candidate went for 27 points and 13 assists on 9-for-13 shooting as he kissed the floor of the Breslin Center before departing to a standing ovation.

Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: Sure, the Pirates were facing lowly DePaul, but Whitehead still brought his best effort in a Big East road win. The sophomore scored 33 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out five assists. Whitehead has been cooking recently, as he has at least 22 points in each of his last four games.

Gabe York, Arizona: York tied a school record with nine made three pointers, scoring a career-high 32 points in the Wildcats’ 94-62 win over Stanford.

Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina: Johnson and Meeks combined for 30 points and 35 rebounds in the Tar Heels’ 76-72 win at No. 17 Duke.

Mike Tobey, Virginia: 15 points and 20 rebounds in the Cavaliers’ 68-46 win over No. 11 Louisville.

STRUGGLED

Boston College: With a loss to Clemson, the Eagles went winless in the ACC as the school failed to win a conference game in both football and men’s basketball. Boston College is the first college in a major conference since Georgia in 1943-44 to go winless in both sports.

Angel Rodriguez, Miami: Rodriguez struggled in the Hurricanes’ loss at Virginia Tech. The senior shot 2-for-8 from the field, finishing with five points, two assists and four turnovers.

Jalen Poyser, UNLV: Poyser scored five points in the Runnin’ Rebels’ loss at San Diego State, shooting 2-for-13 from the field.

Damion Lee, Louisville: Lee shot 3-for-13 from the field in the Cardinals’ 68-46 loss at No. 4 Virginia.

OTHER TOP 25 RESULTS

  • No. 2 Michigan State cruised to a home Big Ten win over Ohio State as Denzel Valentine went for 27 points and 13 assists.
  • Josh Hart scored 18 points as No. 3 Villanova beat Georgetown for a Big East home win. Kris Jenkins added 17 points and eight rebounds.
  • No. 5 Xavier held off Creighton 98-93 in Cincinnati, with Myles Davis leading five Musketeers in double figures with 24 points while also dishing out seven assists.
  • No. 6 Oklahoma wasn’t at its best, but they were good enough to take care of TCU 75-67. Buddy Hield led the way with 21 points.
  • No. 7 Miami lost its shot at a share of the ACC title, as they lost 77-62 at Virginia Tech. Buzz Williams’ Hokies finish the regular season 10-8 in ACC play.
  • No. 9 Oregon held off USC in the second half, going on to win 76-66 to wrap up the outright Pac-12 title. Tyler Dorsey scored 19 points and Elgin Cook 17 for the Ducks, whose résumé is better than some seem to realize.
  • No. 10 West Virginia wrapped up the two seed in next week’s Big 12 tournament with a 69-58 win at No. 19 Baylor. Jaysean Paige led the Mountaineers with 14 points, and Baylor shot just 36.5 percent from the field.
  • No. 13 Utah went on a 19-0 second half run to come back for a 57-55 win over Colorado. The Runnin’ Utes, who will be the two seed at the Pac-12 tournament, received 16 points apiece from Jakob Poeltl and Lorenzo Bonam.
  • No. 16 Iowa dealt Michigan a damaging loss, beating the Wolverines 71-61 in Ann Arbor. Before Saturday, Iowa hadn’t swept Michigan and Michigan State in the same season since 1954.
  • Gabe York tied a school record with nine three-pointers, scoring 32 points as No. 18 Arizona blew out Stanford 94-62.
  • No. 22 Kentucky grabbed its share of the SEC title with a 94-77 win over LSU. Jamal Murray scored 22 points, Skal Labissiere finished with 18 and nine rebounds, and Tyler Ulis added 14 and 14 assists.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT RESULTS

  • Austin Peay became the first-ever eight seed to win the OVC tournament, as they beat UT-Martin 83-73 in Nashville. Dave Loos’ Governors are headed back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.
  • Also wrapping up an NCAA tournament bid Saturday was Yale, which clinched the Ivy League crown with 71-55 win at Columbia. Led by forwards Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod and guard Makai Mason, the Bulldogs are making their first NCAA appearance since 1962.
  • In the CAA quarterfinals, Hofstra knocked off Drexel as Juan’ya Green had 22 points. They’ll face William & Mary in the semifinals, as the Tribe beat James Madison 79-64. Meeting in the other semifinal will be two seed UNCW and six seed Northeastern.
  • In the Southern Conference tournament, No. 1 Chattanooga knocked off Samford in the quarterfinals as Tre’ McLean went for 16 points. They’ll face No. 5 Western Carolina in the semis, as the Catamounts eliminated Wofford. Meeting in the other semifinal will be No. 2 ETSU and No. 3 Furman.
  • The Big South title game is set, as UNC Asheville beat top seed High Point 80-69 and Winthrop beat Gardner-Webb 82-69. High Point, which lost John Brown to a broken foot in their win over Winthrop last week, lost Adam Weary to a knee injury in the quarterfinal round.
  • All four higher seeded teams advanced in the Horizon League first round. As a result Sunday’s quarterfinals will match No. 4 Green Bay and No. 5 Milwaukee, and No. 3 Wright State versus No. 6 Detroit.
  • No. 3 Siena advanced to the MAAC semifinals with an 89-76 win over two-time defending champion No. 6 Manhattan. They’ll take on No. 2 Iona Sunday. In the other semifinal No. 5 Fairfield, which beat No. 4 Saint Peter’s 64-55, will take on top seed Monmouth.
  • Top seed Wagner came back from a four-point halftime deficit to beat No. 6 LIU Brooklyn 81-65. The Seahawks will host No. 2 Fairleigh Dickinson in the title game Tuesday night, as the Knights beat No. 5 Mount St. Mary’s 80-75.
  • The top two seed advanced to Monday’s Summit League semis, with No. 1 IPFW beating South Dakota 86-70 and No. 2 South Dakota State edging out Oral Roberts 73-70.
  • No. 1 Saint Mary’s rebounded from a sluggish first half to beat Loyola Marymount to advance to the WCC semis. They’ll meet No. 4 Pepperdine, which swept the season series from the Gaels. Also advancing to the semifinals were No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 BYU.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Ole Miss took down Tennessee in the SEC as Sebastian Siaz had 23 points to pace the Rebels.
  • Zach Auguste scored 24 points to lead Notre Dame past N.C. State in the ACC.
  • Providence had 30 points and eight rebounds from Jalen Lindsey as they defeated St. John’s in the Big East. Ben Bentil had a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Clemson had 16 points from Jaron Blossomgame as the Tigers earned an ACC win over Boston College.
  • UAB picked up another win in Conference USA as they knocked off Florida Atlantic. Robert Brown led with 17 points.
  • Rutgers picked up its first Big Ten win of the season, blowing out an undermanned Minnesota 75-52. The Rutgers have only won two conference games since joining the Big Ten in 2014, with their stunning win over Wisconsin last season being the first.
  • Pittsburgh did itself no favors when it comes to the NCAA tournament, as they lost by four at Georgia Tech 63-59.
  • Also falling in the ACC was Syracuse, which lost 78-73 at Florida State. The Orange and Panthers will meet in the ACC tournament opener for both Wednesday, and that will be a pivotal game when it comes to the NCAA tournament.
  • Butler took care of Monmouth 95-74, with Austin Etherington leading five Bulldogs in double figures with 18 points. Roosevelt Jones, Kelan Martin and Andrew Chrabascz added 15 apiece for Butler. Henry Ellenson led Marquette with 29 points and eight boards.
  • George Washington’s NCAA tournament hopes took a major hit with their 87-80 loss at Davidson. The Colonials will need to get hot at the Atlantic 10 tournament in Brooklyn if they’re to reach the Big Dance.
  • Weber State wrapped up the Big Sky regular season title with a 79-77 win at Eastern Washington. What also helped the Wildcats was Montana’s 78-72 home loss to Northern Colorado.
  • A tough Kyle Davis shot late in overtime gave Dayton a 68-67 win over VCU and a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title. Also sharing in the spoils are VCU and St. Bonaventure.
  • San Diego State whipped undermanned UNLV 92-56 in the regular season finale for both. The Aztecs will be the top seed in next week’s Mountain West tournament.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Leave a comment

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

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.