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Bubble Banter: All of Wednesday’s relevant bubble action in one place

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Wednesday night.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

WINNERS

SOUTH CAROLINA (RPI: 57, KenPom: 80, NBC seed: Out): In the last eight days, the Gamecocks went from being a team nowhere near the bubble to being a team with a real shot of finding themselves in the NCAA tournament. It started with a win over Kentucky (15) at home. It continued on Wednesday with at Florida (25). That gives them three Quadrant 1 wins, no loss worse than a Quadrant 2 loss and no home loss worse than Missouri (37). The best part? Every opponent left on their schedule is ranked in the top 80.

SYRACUSE (RPI: 41, KenPom: 50, NBC seed: Next four out): The Orange added another Quadrant 2 win on Wednesday night, beating Boston College in the Carrier Dome. They now have six of those, a number that will go to seven if Virginia Tech (76) gets into the top 75. The problem? No Quadrant 1 wins. They’ll have six chances to land one the rest of the way. I would guess they need two, maybe three, or them to feel good.

USC (RPI: 40, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Trojans are quietly one of the hottest teams in the country. If it wasn’t for a half-court buzzer beater at Stanford, they would have won eight straight games after getting their revenge against the Cardinal on Wednesday. They’re second in the league in defensive efficiency during Pac-12 play. The problem? There isn’t one Quadrant 1 win in that streak. USC’s two best wins right now are Middle Tennessee and New Mexico State on a neutral court. They get Cal at home this weekend, then have a three-game stretch where they are at UCLA (61), at Arizona State (32) and at Arizona (20). USC probably wants to win two of those.

NEBRASKA (RPI: 67, KenPom: 65, NBC seed: Out): Nebraska is in a very difficult situation when it comes to their NCAA tournament hopes. They don’t have a Quadrant 1 win to their name — their best win is a home win over Michigan (38) and they don’t one top 100 win away from home — and they don’t play another Quadrant 1 game. None of their remaining opponents are top 50 teams. One one (Maryland) is top 85, and the only other top 100 opponents they have left (at Minnesota, Indiana) will bounce in and out of the top 100. They are going to need to beat someone in the Big Ten tournament.

BOISE STATE (RPI: 33, KenPom: 48, NBC seed: First four out): Boise State whipped up on a team at the bottom of the Mountain West. The names don’t matter, mainly because there are only three teams in the league that are top 100 in the RPI. I’d feel much better about the Broncos if they had managed to win at Wyoming (73) or Nevada (13); they lose by a combined seven points. Boise currently does not have a Quadrant 1 win. If they do not beat both Nevada and Wyoming in the final month of the season, they are probably NIT bound.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 85, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: First four out): The Wolfpack tried really hard to ruin their NCAA tournament chances, as they trailed Pitt by 10 late in the second half. They would go on to win, meaning that the dream is still alive. Home wins over Duke (1) and Clemson (6), plus a neutral court win over Arizona (20) gives the Wolfpack three great wins.

FLORIDA STATE (RPI: 39, KenPom: 22, NBC seed: 9): Florida State is in a good spot right now. They are 15-5 on the season with four of those five losses coming away from home and all of them either Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 2 opponents. They beat Georgia Tech on Wednesday. Beat Miami (21) on Saturday and they’ll be off this list for the time being.

LOSERS

MISSOURI (RPI: 37, KenPom: 36, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Tigers missed out on a great chance to land an elite win, losing by 18 at home to Auburn. Right now, Cuonzo Martin’s team has three Quadrant 1 wins — Tennessee (14) at home, at UCF (59) and South Carolina (57) — and every game they play the rest of the season would be, at worst, a Quadrant 2 win. They’ll have chances to build.

STANFORD (RPI: 91, KenPom: 97, NBC seed: Out): The Cardinal were much more interesting before Arizona (20) snapped their five-game winning streak. After Wednesday’s loss at USC (40) it might be time to move them out of consideration for the time being. The qualifier here: Stanford has had a bunch of injuries and roster issues, something the selection committee considers.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 44, KenPom: 39, NBC seed: 10): Marquette had a shot to really improve their profile on Wednesday night, playing at Xavier. They lost by 19, which is hardly a bad loss; Xavier is 4th in the RPI right now. The Golden Eagles are in pretty good shape right now. They have two Quadrant 1 wins (Seton Hall, at Providence) and six games left against teams ranked in the top 36. Marquette’s next three games are critical: They get Villanova (2), Butler (26) and Providence (36) at home.

BOSTON COLLEGE (RPI: 63, KenPom: 77, NBC seed: Out): The Eagles lost at Syracuse, a Quadrant 1 opponent, which is only problematic in the sense that they now have eight losses on the season. The Eagles have a weird profile: Just one Quadrant 1 win, only three top 150 wins (all at home) and their best win away from home was La Salle (172) on a neural; at Hartford (241) is their only road win. But … they beat Duke, who is No. 1 in the RPI. That will keep them in the mix for a while.

TEMPLE (RPI: 45, KenPom: 91, NBC seed: Out): Neutral court wins over Auburn and Clemson keeps Temple in the conversation, but a 10-10 record and a sweep at the hands of Cincinnati — including a 33-point loss Tuesday night — might be the end of it.

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.