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Bubble Banter: Georgia lands critical win over No. 23 Florida

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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 Tuesday 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

GEORGIA (RPI: 57, KenPom: 69, NBC seed: Next four out): The Bulldogs landed an important win on Tuesday night, picking off Florida (35) at home. That is just a Quadrant 2 win for the Bulldogs, but they already have three Quadrant 1 wins — Saint Mary’s (38) on a neutral, Marquette (46) on the road and Alabama (26) at home — on their résumé. The key for Mark Fox’s club is going to be amassing enough good wins to make up for the fact that they lost to San Diego State (123) on a neutral and at UMass (200). That UMass loss will be one of the worst we see for an at-large team this season.

This win snapped a three game-losing streak. Georgia had also lost five of their last six games. Their next two games, three of their next four and four of their next six games come on the road. The next two — at Mississippi State (63) and Vanderbilt (115) — are wins that Georgia needs to get if they are serious about being a tournament team.

TEXAS A&M (RPI: 33, KenPom: 34, NBC seed: First four out): Texas A&M badly needed to get a win over Arkansas at home on Tuesday night, and not necessarily because they needed it for their résumé. The win is their fourth Quadrant 1 win and the sixth win they have in the top two Quadrants. Combine that with just two losses outside the top 35 — both to LSU (79) — and their excellent non-conference SOS and what you get is a team that has the foundation of an at-large profile. Their problem? They’ve played like crap for a month, losing seven of their last nine games. Five of their next eight games are on the road, and one of those home games is Kentucky. The Aggies needed this because, with a 13-8 record, they couldn’t afford to be stuck in that slump for that much longer.

LOSERS

BUFFALO (RPI: 27, KenPom: 73, NBC seed: 12): Buffalo probably cost themselves just about any chance they have of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Bulls had a terrific RPI entering the day (27), but that is going to take a dip with a loss at Kent State (174). Buffalo also does not have a win better than Toledo (71) at home. That is their only win against a team in the top 130, and Miami (OH (134) is the highest-ranked team they have left. There was a slim chance that Buffalo would be able to get an at-large if they had won out. They didn’t win out.

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 87, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: Out): Oklahoma State missed out on a chance to earn another Quadrant 1 win at home when they lost to TCU (22) on Tuesday. The Cowboys are now 13-9 on the season, and while there are no bad losses to their name, two of their next three games are at Kansas and at West Virginia. At this point, OK State is going to be pulled out of contention until they string together a few wins.

ARKANSAS (RPI: 21, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: 9): Losing on the road to Texas A&M is hardly a bad loss for the Razorbacks, but for a team with just one road win, adding one against a top 40 opponent would have been nice. As it stands, this doesn’t hurt Arkansas as much as it cost them a chance to put themselves into a much more comfortable position.

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.