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Previewing the 24-hour Tip-Off Marathon

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The college hoops 24-hour Tip-Off Marathon kicks off again on Monday evening, and as always, there are a number of particularly intriguing matchups to take note of. For your viewing assistance, here is everything you need to be aware of to properly watch the marathon while finding a way to get some sleep in.

MAKE SURE YOU’RE IN FRONT OF A TV for the Champions Classic on Tuesday night. The event has quickly turned into the most anticipated early-season event every year, and this season is certainly no different, as the top three of the top five teams in college basketball will be at the Garden.

The opening act – Kentucky vs. Michigan State, 7:00 p.m. ET – will feature two of the best athletes in college hoops in Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Kentucky’s Malik Monk. Between Michigan State’s exhibitions and his opening night performance in a loss to Arizona, Bridges has looked like a lock to be a top ten pick come June’s NBA draft. The issue for the Spartans is figuring out where else they are going to get production. Nick Ward has shown flashes on the block, but Tum Tum Nairn and Cassius Winston were not great at the point guard spot and Eron Harris did not provide the kind of offensive boost that was expected.

That could be a problem on Tuesday, as the Spartans will square off against a Kentucky team that is very good defensively, particularly on the perimeter. The issue with the Wildcats is their perimeter shooting. De’Aaron Fox has been phenomenal in transition and has looked great as a passer, Isaiah Briscoe was able to get to the rim at will against Stephen F. Austin and Canisius and Monk has showed off his next-level athleticism a couple of times, but UK’s issues shooting the ball are still there. They were 9-for-34 from three in the two games they played this weekend, and three of those threes were from the seldom-used Mychal Mulder.

  • Prediction: Kentucky (-8.0). Michigan State doesn’t have size inside and Kentucky’s guards should eat up MSU’s point guards.

The nightcap – Kansas vs. Duke, 9:30 p.m. ET – looked like potential national title game preview a month ago, but the matchup has lost a significant amount of luster in the last two weeks. That’s what happens when 60 percent of Duke’s freshman class and three of the four potential lottery picks on the roster end up getting injured. Harry Giles III is still recovering for a scope on his left knee in late-September. Jayson Tatum sprained his foot in October. Marques Bolden suffered a lower leg injury earlier this month.

The Blue Devils still have Grayson Allen available while Frank Jackson and Luke Kennard both played well over the weekend, but with those three freshmen expected to miss Tuesday’s game, we’re looking at a situation where Kansas should enter the night as the favorite.

That’s ironic considering the fact that Kansas lost to Indiana on Friday night in Hawai’i. The Jayhawks got 30 points from Frank Mason II, but star freshman Josh Jackson looked just so-so in his first collegiate game while that vaunted Kansas defense was lit up for 103 points by an Indiana team that seemed incapable of missing. The Jayhawks should get this win, but if Duke somehow pulls this out, we could be looking at a situation where both Kansas and Michigan State played games in Hawai’i and New York just five days apart and go a combined 0-4.

  • Prediction: Kansas (+2.5). I think Kansas wins assuming Duke’s guys don’t suit up. If you can get the Jayhawks with the points, take it.

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STAY UP LATE FOR San Diego State’s visit to the Kennel. The game – San Diego State at No. 14 Gonzaga – tips at midnight on the east coast, but it will be worth it. This team may be Mark Few’s best chance to get to the Final Four. They have a trio of transfers – Nigel Williams-Goss, Johnathan Williams III, Jordan Mathews – that will carry them while defensive stalwart Przemek Karnowski is back to join Zach Collins on one of the most underrated front lines in college hoops.

But SDSU is going to be very good this season as well. Trey Kell and Jeremy Helmsly are talented enough to carry this group offensively while the Aztecs will be just as good as they usually are defensively. It’s not easy to win in Spokane, but this should nonetheless be a good look at a pair of potential Sweet 16 teams.

LEAVE WORK EARLY AND FIND A HAPPY HOUR for Tuesday afternoon’s final game – No. 5 Oregon at Baylor, 3:30 p.m. ET. The Ducks are a legitimate national title contender, but they’ll be playing on the road without Dillon Brooks, their best player, against a Baylor team that may be better than some people realize. Manu Lecomte – 13 points, 11 assists, no turnovers – looks like he’ll be fine running the point for Scott Drew while Tyler Dorsey will be a 20-point scorer without Brooks in the lineup. Keep an eye on whether or not Johnathan Motley suits up for the Bears.

UNDER THE RADAR GAMES

I think there are two that qualify:

  • Princeton at BYU, 10:00 p.m.: The first men’s game on Monday night, Princeton, who is probably the best team in the Ivy, visits a BYU team that will give Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s a run for their money in the WCC. The battle of styles in this one will be fascinating.
  • Dayton at Alabama, 1:15 p.m.: Alabama looks like they’re still going to be in rebuilding mode this season, but Dayton is a team that we have in the NBCSports Top 25 who could use a solid road win over an SEC team.

Anyway, here is the full slate:

Mon, Nov. 14

  • No. 4 UConn at No. 15 Florida State (women), ESPN2, 6:00 p.m.
  • No. 6 Texas at No. 10 Stanford (women), ESPN2, 8:00 p.m.
  • Princeton at BYU, ESPN2, 10:00 p.m.

Tue, Nov. 15

  • San Diego State at No. 14 Gonzaga, ESPN2, 12:00 a.m.
  • Green Bay at Pacific, ESPN2, 2:00 a.m.
  • Florida Atlantic at Hawai’i, ESPN2, 4:15 a.m.
  • Niagara at Hartford, ESPN2, 6:30 a.m.
  • Winthrop at Manhattan, ESPN2, 8:45 a.m.
  • Longwood at Stephen F. Austin, ESPN2, 11:00 a.m.
  • Dayton at Alabama, ESPN2, 1:15 p.m.
  • No. 5 Oregon at Baylor, ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Michigan State, ESPN, 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 1 Duke vs. No. 3 Kansas, ESPN, 9:30 p.m.
HONOLULU, HI - NOVEMBER 11: Miles Bridges #22 of the Michigan State Spartans drives to the basket during the first half of the Armed Forces Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on November 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
Miles Bridges (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

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

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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.