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Weekend Preview: Breaking down the weekend’s games with picks against the spread

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*(NOTE: Lines are not posted for Saturday or Sunday games as of publication. Spreads referenced are via

No. 2 WEST VIRGINIA at No. 8 TEXAS TECH (-6), 2:00 p.m.

There will not be a game between two tougher teams all season long. What’s most fascinating to me about this matchup is that it is a battle between two of the nation’s five best turnover inducing teams, but they go about it in totally different ways. West Virginia presses full court. Texas Tech gets after you in the half court.

Either way, I’m not sure that this is going to be the prettiest game. It will be physical, there will be a lot of fouls called and even more fouls that go uncalled. But these just might be the two best teams in the Big 12 this season. So it will certainly be worth the watch.

  • PREDICTION: If you can get West Virginia (+6) I think you need to take West Virginia (+6). I don’t expect the spread to be that high when it is actually released. I think Texas Tech wins a close one. West Virginia (+6)

No. 25 CREIGHTON at No. 10 XAVIER (-2), 2:00 p.m.

Xavier is stuck in a rut. We went over that yesterday. Much of it has to do with the fact that Trevon Bluiett has not been right for a while, and he may end up facing off with Khyri Thomas on Saturday. That is not ideal. That said, the Musketeers have lost two in a row on the road. They’re coming back home in a game they really need to win if they want the pipe dream of unseating Villanova top the Big East to still be within reach.

  • PREDICTION: I think this is the game where the notoriously streaky Bluiett gets it going. Once he gets it going, the Musketeers are a totally different team. Xavier (-2)

No. 16 TCU at No. 9 OKLAHOMA (-6), 1:00 p.m.

Just two weeks ago, Trae Young played his first road game as a member of the Big 12 conference at TCU, going for 39 points and 14 assists as the Sooners erased an 11-point second half deficit to win in Fort Worth. I expect more of the same from Young. His efficiency numbers took a hit the last two games, thanks to matchups with West Virginia and Texas Tech, and this should be the game where he gets right.

  • PREDICTION: I think the Sooners win by double-digits. Oklahoma (-6)


Other than the NFL Playoffs?

Quite a bit, actually …

  • MICHIGAN at No. 4 MICHIGAN STATE (-10), 12:00 p.m.: This in-state rivalry has gotten a lot more interesting now that Michigan is playing well and the Spartans are doing things like getting smoked by Ohio State and nearly losing to Rutgers at home. I think the Wolverines keep this close. Michigan (+10)
  • No. 5 PURDUE (-8) at MINNESOTA, 12:00 p.m.: The Golden Gophers are a train wreck right now. I just don’t see them keeping pace with a very good Purdue team. Purdue (-8)
  • OREGON at No. 17 ARIZONA (-9), 2:00 p.m.: Oregon is coming off of a win at Arizona State while Arizona is coming off of a scare at home against Oregon State. I think this is the game where the Wildcats wake-up and run Oregon out of Arizona. Arizona (-9)
  • No. 18 MIAMI at No. 19 CLEMSON (-4), 3:00 p.m.: Miami badly need to right the ship. They’ve struggled on the offensive end of the floor, but with Clemson coming off of a loss at N.C. State on Thursday, the Tigers are going to be trying to avoid a losing streak as well. Miami (+4)
  • No. 21 KENTUCKY (-5) at VANDERBILT, 4:00 p.m.: Vanderbilt has proven to be a tough out at home, and Kentucky hasn’t exactly been a world-beater this season. I think the actual line will be more than (-5), and I like Vandy to keep this close. Vandy (+5)
  • TEXAS A&M at No. 24 TENNESSEE (-5), 6:00 p.m.: Texas A&M will drop to 0-5 in the SEC if they lose this game and are getting to the point where the team with the best roster – when healthy – in the league is in danger of missing the Big Dance. I think the Aggies – who are a couple of fluky plays away from being 2-2 in conference – figure it out. Texas A&M (+5)

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.