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Brothers Kris Jenkins and Nate Britt will play for national title Monday

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HOUSTON — Monday night’s national title game will be a family affair for Villanova’s Kris Jenkins and North Carolina’s Nate Britt.

The two juniors don’t share a last name or play the same position, but Britt and Jenkins have, legally, been brothers since they were 12 years old.

The former grassroots teammates grew close when they were kids, with Jenkins making the permanent move into the Britt household when Kris was spending a lot of time with Nate away his former home in South Carolina. After a year or so of constant visits, Jenkins’ mother asked if the Britts could take responsibility for Kris and Melody Britt and Nate Britt Sr. became his legal guardians.

Now, the former high school teammates at Gonzaga College Prep in Washington D.C. will play against each other for the first time in college — on the sport’s biggest stage.

“We talked about it as it got closer to actually happening but not prior to college or when we were in high school,” Britt said after North Carolina’s Final Four win over Syracuse. “This was never a conversation. We talked about playing each other at some point, possibly in the tournament, but never the championship game.”

It’s unlikely that Britt and Jenkins will guard each other one-on-one since they play different positions, but Britt is prepared to face his brother if Villanova opts to switch on defense as they’ve frequently done during the season. The trash talking between the two fiery competitors hasn’t started yet, but Britt is sure that words will be exchanged once the ball is tipped — if the trash talking doesn’t begin sooner over text message.

“We definitely will be talking some between now and the next game,” Britt said. “I don’t know if any trash talking will get started up yet but it will probably happen in the game, I’m pretty sure.

“I think I’m the best trash talker on our team, actually. I can get in somebody’s head. If it gets started, I’ll come on top in the trash talking.”

The winner of the trash talk is one thing, but winning the national championship is obviously the major concern for both players and both teams entering Monday night. Britt and Jenkins aren’t going to hold anything back and it will likely be difficult for the families to get through the game trying to remain as neutral as possible.

“It’s something that we’ll have to cherish forever. It’ll mean a lot to us and a lot to our family. Monday will be something special,” Jenkins said.

“It means everything to us. I think it means a lot more to our families,” Britt said. “They’ve put in a lot of time into us being the young men that we are now. This is just one of the ways that it’s showing that the work they’ve put into us is paying off.”

Monday’s championship game will also be tough for the brothers as they figure out the odd balance of wanting individual success for each other while also hoping each other losses. With the way Jenkins is rolling these last few months, he’s the player to most likely have a big impact during the title game, but Britt is hoping it isn’t enough for a Villanova national title victory.

“I hope he plays well, but that’s about it. I definitely don’t want him to win,” Britt said with a smile. “This will be permanent bragging rights in the house so I want to come out on top. There’s no part of me that wants Villanova to win.”

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.

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.