(AP Photo/Al Goldis)

CBT BRACKETOLOGY: SPARTY MOVES UP, BID THIEVES LURK

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After one of the wildest days in a wild season of college hoops, the bubble remains a mess, the top line in question, and five bid thieves have gathered like vultures awaiting a meal on an unsuspecting bubble team that could be kicked to the curb.  We even have a new No. 1 Seed: Michigan State. With one day to go, welcome to Chaos Central.

The makeup of the final eight or so teams in the field could easily change between now and Sunday afternoon.  That’s where the bid thieves come into play.  Either Memphis or Tulane will play for the American Conference’s automatic bid on Sunday.  Davidson knocked off St. Bonaventure Friday and is a win over VCU away from doing the same in the Atlantic 10. We also have LSU and Georgia playing in the semifinals of the SEC after the Bulldogs toppled South Carolina for a third time.

However unlikely, there are three potential at-large bids that could be taken away.  That thought won’t calm any nerves among those anxiously awaiting the Selection Committee’s final decisions tomorrow evening.

Among the biggest questions: Will the Committee reward Saint Mary’s for a WCC regular-season title despite a schedule heavy on RPI lightweights?  Will the Committee extend courtesy to Wichita State for a dominant four-game margin in the Missouri Valley?  And what about Monmouth?  The Hawks did everything right except lose three games to sub-200 RPI teams.  And those questions don’t account for remaining uncertainties about teams like Michigan, Syracuse, or Vanderbilt.

Bracket Update: March 12, 2016

Now that we’ve reached Championship Week, teams in CAPS represent the AUTOMATIC bid. The other automatic bids are noted by the highest remaining seed in the conference tournament (as eligible). 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)

  • Wichita State vs. Saint Mary’s | East Region
  • VCU vs. Monmouth | South Region
  • HOLY CROSS vs. FLA GULF COAST | Midwest Region
  • FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON vs. JACKSON STATE | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

MIDWESTChicago SOUTH Louisville                           
Des Moines Raleigh
1) Kansas 1) Virginia
16) HOLY CROSS / FLA GULF CST 16) AUSTIN PEAY
8) USC 8) Oregon State
9) Saint Joseph’s 9) Butler
Oklahoma City Providence
5) Duke 5) Maryland
12) Ark-Little Rock 12) CHATTANOOGA
4) Purdue 4) Kentucky
13) IONA 13) Stony Brook
Providence St. Louis
6) Iowa 6) Baylor
11) GONZAGA 11) VCU / Monmouth
3) Miami-FL 3) Xavier
14) Middle Tennessee 14) S.F. Austin
Spokane Brooklyn
7) Providence 7) Colorado
10) South Carolina 10) Pittsburgh
2) Oregon 2) West Virginia
15) Weber State 15) GREEN BAY
WEST – Anaheim EAST – Philadelphia
St. Louis Brooklyn
1) Michigan State 1) Villanova
16) Hampton 16) FDU / JACKSON ST
8) Texas Tech 8) Wisconsin
9) Cincinnati 9) St. Bonaventure
Denver Denver
5) Arizona 5) Iowa State
12) NORTHERN IOWA 12) Akron
4) Texas AM 4) California
13) NC-WILMINGTON 13) YALE
Spokane Des Moines
6) Notre Dame 6) Texas
11) San Diego State 11) Wichita St / Saint Mary’s
3) Utah 3) Indiana
14) Hawaii 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Oklahoma City Raleigh
7) Dayton 7) Seton Hall
10) Temple 10) Connecticut
2) Oklahoma 2) North Carolina
15) New Mexico State 15) UNC-ASHEVILLE

NOTES on the BRACKET: Kansas is the No. 1 overall seed followed by Virginia, Villanova, Michigan State. Next in line: Oklahoma, North Carolina, Oregon, West Virginia

Last Four Byes (at large): Cincinnati, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, South Carolina

Last Four IN (at large): Wichita State, VCU, Monmouth, Saint Mary’s

First Four OUT (at large): Michigan, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Florida

Next four teams OUT (at large): Valparaiso, George Washington, Georgia, Tulsa

Breakdown by Conference …

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

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

ACC (6): NORTH CAROLINA, Virginia, Miami, Duke, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh

Big 10 (6): INDIANA, Michigan State, Purdue, Maryland, Iowa, Wisconsin

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Xavier, Seton Hall, Providence, Butler

Atlantic 10 (4): DAYTON, Saint Joseph’s, St. Bonaventure, VCU

American (3): TEMPLE, Cincinnati, Connecticut

SEC (3): KENTUCKY, Texas AM, South Carolina

Missouri Valley (2): NORTHERN IOWA, Wichita State

MAAC (2): IONA, Monmouth

West Coast (1): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Mountain West (1): SAN DIEGO STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Iona (MAAC), Middle Tennessee (C-USA), Ark-Little Rock (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Weber State (BSKY), Green Bay (HORIZON), Stephen F. Austin (SLND), Chattanooga (STHN), Hawaii (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Austin Peay (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), UNC-Asheville (BSO), Hampton (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Stony Brook (AEAST), Holy Cross (PAT), Fairleigh-Dickinson (NEC), Jackson State (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

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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

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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.