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Bracketology: Bumpy ride to Selection Sunday

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It looks like a bumpy ride to Selection Sunday.  In a just over a week’s time, we’ve been reminded that conference games take on a different flavor.  Since Christmas, two No. 1 seeds – Villanova and UCLA – have lost league road games to quality opponents (Butler and Oregon).  Neither is a reason to panic, nor switch directions.  One could look at the SEC and believe Kentucky has a chance to run the table; same for Gonzaga in the WCC.  Other than that?  Teams are going to lose.  It happens.  It’s an important reminder that the Seed List – used by the Selection Committee to create the bracket – isn’t a poll, where a single loss (or win), is often judged above the whole.  Rather, the Seed List is a evaluation of a team’s entire body of work at a given point in time, relative to teams around it.

Were today Selection Sunday, the Committee would have some particularly tough choices. How would they handle a team like Indiana?  The Hoosiers have two stellar wins – Kansas and North Carolina.  The rest of their current resume is suspect.  Largely due to a poor slate of non-conference home games, IU’s RPI is hovering around 130; a team with that type of number has never received an at-large bid.  What we believe – or at least suspect – is that Indiana will win enough Big Ten games to improve that number.  By contrast, IU is 29th in today’s KenPom rankings and 42nd in the ELO Chess metric.  The Hoosiers are 38th on our Seed List.  We’ll see how the next few weeks play out.

It’s early January, so things remain very fluid.  Conference play generally provides separation for seeding and selection.  Given what we’ve seen in the first week, however, a bumpy ride.  It should be fun.

UPDATED: January 5, 2017

Regarding bracketing principles, 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)

  • Rhode Island vs. Miami-FL | East Region
  • TCU vs. Illinois South Region
  • UC-IRVINE vs. SE-LOUISIANA | Midwest Region
  • NC-CENTRAL vs. MOUNT ST. MARY’S | East Region

BRACKET PROJECTION …

EAST New York          MIDWEST – Kansas City                  
Buffalo Tulsa
1) VILLANOVA 1) KANSAS
16) NC-CENTRAL/MT ST MARY’S 16) UC-IRVINE/SE LOUISIANA
8) Northwestern 8) Pittsburgh
9) SMU 9) Michigan
Orlando Sacramento
5) Florida 5) Wisconsin
12) NC-WILMINGTON 12) UT-ARLINGTON
4) Virginia 4) Oregon
13) AKRON 13) NEW MEXICO ST
Buffalo Salt Lake City
6) Purdue 6) Minnesota
11) Rhode Island/Miami-FL 11) WICHITA STATE
3) West Virginia 3) Creighton
14) VERMONT 14) PENN
Greenville Orlando
7) Maryland 7) USC
10) South Carolina 10) Indiana
2) Duke 2) FLORIDA STATE
15) JACKSONVILLE ST 15) UNC-ASHEVILLE
WEST – San Jose SOUTH – Memphis
Sacramento Tulsa
1) UCLA 1) Baylor
16) TEXAS-SOUTHERN 16) BUCKNELL
8) Seton Hall 8) Michigan State
9) Dayton 9) Arkansas
Milwaukee Milwaukee
5) Notre Dame 5) Arizona
12) MID TENNESSEE ST 12) VALPARAISO
4) Butler 4) Xavier
13) BOISE STATE 13) FLA GULF COAST
Greenville Indianapolis
6) CINCINNATI 6) Saint Mary’s
11) VCU 11) Illinois/TCU
3) North Carolina 3) Louisville
14) SAMFORD 14) CANISIUS
Salt Lake City Indianapolis
7) Clemson 7) Virginia Tech
10) Oklahoma State 10) Iowa State
2) GONZAGA 2) KENTUCKY
15) NORTH DAKOTA ST 15) E. WASHINGTON

NOTES on the BRACKET: Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Kansas, Baylor, and UCLA

Last Four Byes (at large): Oklahoma State, Indiana, Iowa State, South Carolina

Last Four IN (at large): TCU, Illinois, Rhode Island, Miami-FL

First Four OUT (at large): NC State, Marquette, Ohio State, Kansas State

Next four teams OUT (at large): Providence, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Houston

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (10): FLORIDA STATE, Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Pittsburgh, Miami-FL

Big 10 (9): WISCONSIN, Minnesota, Purdue, Maryland, Northwestern, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois

Big 12 (6): KANSAS, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, TCU

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

SEC (4): KENTUCKY, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas

Pac 12 (4): UCLA, Arizona, Oregon, USC

Atlantic 10 (3): VCU, Dayton, Rhode Island

American (2): CINCINNATI, SMU

West Coast (2): GONZAGA, Saint Mary’s

Missouri Valley (1): WICHITA STATE

Mountain West (1): BOISE STATE

ONE BID LEAGUES: Canisius (MAAC), Middle Tennessee State (C-USA), UT-Arlington (SBELT), Penn (IVY), Eastern Washington (BSKY), Valparaiso (HORIZON), SE Louisiana (SLND), Samford (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Akron (MAC), Florida Gulf Coast (ASUN), Jacksonville State (OVC), UNC-Wilmington (CAA), UNC-Asheville (BSO), NC-Central (MEAC), North Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Mount St. Mary’s (NEC), Texas-Southern (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

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

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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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.