Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Bubble Banter: Butler, Missouri land critical wins

2 Comments

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

BUTLER (RPI: 31, KenPom: 30, NBC seed: 10): Butler absolutely pounded Marquette on the road on Wednesday, giving them yet another Quadrant 1 win. The Bulldogs have wins over Villanova (2) at home, Ohio State (22) on a neutral and now Marquette (46) on the road. They’ve also beaten Marquette and Utah at home and don’t have a bad loss to their name. Perhaps the most important part of this win? They now have a road win better than Georgetown (153).

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 71, KenPom: 41, NBC seed: First four out): Virginia Tech added another Quadrant 1 win on Wednesday night when they picked off Boston College on the road in overtime. That’s their fourth Quadrant 1 win, although three of them could drop down a level if BC, Notre Dame and Ole Miss go cold. The biggest issue for the Hokies is probably their non-conference SOS, which is 323rd. That means they’ll have some ground to make up.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 65, KenPom: 70, NBC seed: Out): The Bulldogs added a second-straight win on Wednesday, going into South Carolina (54) and leaving with a Quadrant 1 win. It’s their second Quadrant 1 win but just the third Quadrant 1 or 2 win. MSU has no bad losses, but they do have a non-conference SOS of 279. They have a lot of work to do, and the next two home games — Georgia, Alabama — will help.

MISSOURI (RPI: 43, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: Next four out): The Tigers snapped a three-game losing streak by going into Alabama and knocking off the Crimson Tide. That’s a top 25 road win, one that will likely have some staying power. It’s also the fourth Quadrant 1 for the Tigers. Four of their six best wins are away from home.

LOSERS

SYRACUSE (RPI: 32, KenPom: 49, NBC seed: First four out): The best thing you can say about Syracuse at this point in the season is that they still have chances left. They are going to need to capitalize on those chances, however, as the Orange don’t have a single Quadrant 1 win on their résumé. Their best win on the season? Buffalo, who lost to Kent State last night, at home. The Orange do have six more top 20 games left. So there’s still a chance.

MARYLAND (RPI: 57, KenPom: 42, NBC seed: Out): Maryland might have just relegated themselves to the NIT. They went into Purdue on Wednesday night and lost to Purdue (8), 75-67. Their profile isn’t awful. They’ll have a Quadrant 1 win once Butler’s win over Marquette works through the formula, but that’s their Quadrant 1 or 2 win. The killer? They only play one Quadrant 1 game the rest of the way. It’s auto-bid or bust.

MARQUETTE (RPI: 46, KenPom: 40, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Golden Eagles are in the midst of their most important stretch of the season, and thus far, it’s not going well. They’ve now lost three in a row, four out of five and five out of seven as they got worked over at home by Butler. They get Providence at home on Saturday then play five of their next six games on the road. The details of what is on Marquette’s profile right now are irrelevant if they don’t find a way to fix this slump and fast.

HOUSTON (RPI: 50, KenPom: , NBC seed: 11): Houston has some good wins — Arkansas, Wichita State, Temple, Providence on a neutral — but their biggest issue right now is that they did not play a good non-conference schedule and that they lost to Drexel on a neutral. They need some big wins to make up for it, and blew a GREAT chance at one on Wednesday, wasting an 18-point lead at Cincinnati. If they miss the tournament, that one will sting.

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 34, KenPom: 63, NBC seed: 9): The best thing about Providence getting their tails kicked at Seton Hall on Tuesday is that the RPI doesn’t factor in score. All it looks like is a road loss to a top 20 team. Forget it happened and get one back at Marquette on Saturday.

SOUTH CAROLINA (RPI: 54, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: Play-in game): Losing at home to Mississippi State did not help things for the Gamecocks, who are one of the teams right there on the cut-line. The rest of their schedule is brutal. All but two opponents are in the top 55, none are outside the top 80 and six of the nine are Quadrant 1 games.

ALABAMA (RPI: 24, KenPom: 56, NBC seed: 9): Alabama dropped a home game on Wednesday, falling to a Missouri team that had just lost three in a row. The Tigers are good enough this year that it is hardly a bad loss, and a loaded non-conference SOS plus four Quadrant 1 wins has Alabama in a good spot.

 

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

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
1 Comment

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
7 Comments

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

Getty Images
4 Comments

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
4 Comments

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.