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Player of the Year Power Rankings: A new Duke player tops the list, while three preseason all-americans fall out

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The latest edition of the only Player of the Year Power Rankings that you need to be paying attention to.

The player that was No. 1 in last week’s rankings is no longer in our top ten.

That’s what happens when you shoot 26 percent from three over a five-game stretch and struggle as another player on your team goes absolutely bonkers in the most riveting week of regular season college basketball in years.

What may be crazier is that players No. 4 and 5 from last week’s rankings are no longer on this list, either.

Allonzo Trier and Arizona fell off a cliff in the Bahamas, while Miles Bridges has been dealing with an ankle injury that has kept him from making much of an impact.

The result is that a freshman has climbed to the top while being chased down by four upperclassmen and a freshman having a season that we have literally never seen before.

1. MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: For the second straight week, we have a Duke player atop our Player of the Year rankings.

Only …

This week’s Duke player is different than last week’s Duke player, and that’s because Marvin Bagley III took over for the Blue Devils twice in the span of three days to lead them to wins against Texas and No. 6 Florida.

On the season, Bagley is now averaging 22.3 points and 11.3 boards through eight games despite the fact that, in one of those games, he was pulled midway through the first half with an eye injury. He has six double-doubles on the season, four 20-and-10 games and two 30-and-15 performances. He went for 34 points and 15 boards to lead Duke back from down 16 in the second half to beat Texas in overtime and, two nights later, had 30 points and 15 boards as he helped Duke erase a 17 point deficit in the final 10 minutes against Florida.

Through the first two-and-a-half weeks of the season, Bagley has proven to be the most dominant big man in college basketball and the best player on the best team in the country. That is a good combination of things to be.

2. JORDAN MURPHY, Minnesota: Minnesota has played seven games this season. Murphy has a double-double in all seven of them. He’s gone for 20-and-10 in four of those games, and if it wasn’t for Saturday’s matchup with No. 25 Alabama going utterly and completely off the rails, then Murphy would have probably ended up getting there again; he had 19 points and 12 boards in the first half, the biggest reason that the Golden Gophers were up by 17 points and cruising when things got weird.

There’s nothing pretty about Murphy’s game. He’s the best junkyard dog in the country. He attacks the glass, he finishes everything around the rim, he’ll out-tough anyone. This is who he’s been forever, but he finally found the motor to back his talent up. The results speak for themselves.

3. BONZIE COLSON, Notre Dame: Colson has continued to quietly go about his business, anchoring an offense that has vaulted the Irish into the top five of the AP Poll. After finishing last season as a second-team all-american, Colson is now averaging up over 20 points. He is the piece that Notre Dame’s offense orbits around. His ability to score one-on-one combined with the fact that the Irish have about 400 players around him that can shoot threes makes them so hard-to-guard. Ask Wichita State. Colson had 25 points and 11 boards as Notre Dame erased a 14-point halftime deficit in the Maui Invitational title game.

4. JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova: We entered the season expecting Brunson to separate himself as the best point guard in college basketball, and he has done just that. He’s leading the Wildcats in scoring while shooting nearly 48 percent from three as a junior. The one problem with placing Brunson this high at this point in the season is that we don’t really know how good Villanova is just yet. They won the Battle 4 Atlantis, but thanks to the dumpster fire that was Arizona, the best team they beat in the event was Tennessee. We may not get a real sense of just how good the Wildcats are until they square off with Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic.

Chris Chiozza (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

5. CHRIS CHIOZZA, Florida: Florida is this year’s UCLA. They had moderate preseason expectations, and after putting up massive numbers against poor competition early, they proved themselves to be as dangerous and entertaining as anyone in the country when they started to play real teams. Chiozza is Lonzo Ball in this narrative, the engine that makes the Florida offense run.

But like UCLA, I’m not quite ready to fully jump on the bandwagon just yet. We need to see whether or not defense is going to be an issue for a team that doesn’t really have all that much size, and we need to see what happens to them when those threes stop falling at the rate they’re falling. But that’s neither here nor there when it comes to Chiozza, who has gone from an underlooked piece on last year’s to one of the best at his position in the country.

6. TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma: I’m still not quite sure just how good Oklahoma is going to end up being this season, but I am sure that Young is going to end up being the most productive point guard in college basketball. Through five games, Young is averaging 28.2 points, 8.6 assists, 4.2 boards and 2.2 steals. He’s even blocked three shots. He’s using 36 percent of Oklahoma’s offensive possessions while posting an offensive rating of 127.5, which is an insane level of efficiency on that kind of usage. Here is how Young’s start compares to other players that have had similarly insane statistical seasons:

Since 2004, there has not been a single player with a usage rate of 36.0 and an offensive rating anywhere near the 127.5 that Young is putting up. If he keeps this pace up – he probably won’t, mind you – he’ll be the first player since 1992 to average 28 points and eight assists.

While his raw numbers are not as impressive – Sexton is averaging 25.2 points and 4.4 assists after going for 40 against Minnesota – but his advance statistics are just as insane as Young’s are.

 

7. TRA HOLDER, Arizona State: Arizona State has quite a bit in common with Florida in the sense that their current lofty record and media bandwagon is a direct result of having a roster loaded with talented, thrilling guards and a run of lights-out shooting. Holder personifies that. He’s currently averaging 23.3 points, 6.0 boards and 5.5 assists while shooting 50 percent from three on nearly seven attempts per game. He’s coming off of a 40-point outburst in a blowout win over No. 15 Xavier, and he’s one of two Sun Devils averaging better than 19.5 points and five assists. We’ll see how long it lasts, but for now, Holder deserves all the attention he’s getting.

8. TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier: Bluiett and Xavier had a dud last weekend, getting smoked by an Arizona State team that couldn’t miss. Bluiett did not play great in that game, but he is still having a fantastic start to the season, averaging 21.3 points and 3.3 assists while still shooting better than 50 percent from three.

9. MANU LECOMTE, Baylor: Lecomte was a decoy in Baylor’s win over Creighton in the title game of the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. But he’s still be the best player for a Baylor team that looks like they will once again be a top 20 program.

10. COLLIN SEXTON, Alabama: See above.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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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

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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.