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Villanova, Virginia, Purdue stay 1-2-3 atop latest AP Top 25

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Villanova, Virginia and Purdue are making themselves comfortable atop the AP Top 25. And with the way they’re playing, they might stay there for a while longer, too.

The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in Monday’s latest poll, followed by the second-ranked Cavaliers and the third-ranked Boilermakers. It marked the fourth straight week that with the trio sitting 1-2-3 in the poll as they continue extended winning streaks while avoiding the upsets that hit national powers Duke, Kansas, Arizona and Kentucky last weekend.

Villanova (22-1, 9-1 Big East) has won nine straight and hasn’t lost in the 2018 calendar year.

Virginia (22-1, 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won 14 straight games and leads the rest of the tradition-rich league by at least three games in the loss column. Its defense ranks No. 1 nationally in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency rankings (82.2 points allowed per 100 possessions), and the Cavaliers are coming off a game in which they held Syracuse to 44 points — the Orange’s lowest output ever in the Carrier Dome.

“The guys are playing at a high level, for sure,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said afterward. “They understand how they have to play. … I like what our guys are doing.”

Then there’s Purdue (23-2, 12-0 Big Ten). The Boilermakers have the nation’s longest winning streak at 19 games with the only hiccups coming in a two-day blip in November’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

“If there is a better team inside and out in the country, I haven’t seen them yet,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said after his team’s Saturday overtime loss to the Boilermakers.

HERE IS THE FULL POLL

1. Villanova (48 first-place votes)
2. Virginia (16)
3. Purdue (1)
4. Michigan State
5. Xavier
6. Cincinnati
7. Texas Tech
8. Auburn
9. Duke
10. Kansas
11. Saint Mary’s
12. Gonzaga
13. Arizona
14. Ohio State
15. Tennessee
16. Clemson
17. Oklahoma
18. Rhode Island
19. West Virginia
20. Michigan
21. North Carolina
22. Wichita State
23. Nevada
24. Kentucky
25. Miami

TOP-10 CHANGES

Several teams reached first-time-in-years perches in the top 10.

Cincinnati (21-2) followed No. 4 Michigan State and No. 5 Xavier, reaching No. 6 for its highest ranking since January 2004. Next came No. 7 Texas Tech (19-4), which reached its highest ranking since hitting No. 7 in March 1996. And eighth-ranked Auburn (21-2) has its highest ranking since January 2000.

Ninth-ranked Duke and No. 10 Kansas rounded out the top 10, each sliding along with fellow national powers Arizona (No. 13) and Kentucky (No. 24) after losses in an upset-filled weekend.

HIGH MARKS

St. Mary’s (23-2) is rolling along with 18 straight wins behind high-scoring forward Jock Landale (24.5 points per game). Now the Gaels have their highest ranking in program history at No. 11, surpassing a two-week stay at No. 12 last season.

And No. 18 Rhode Island (19-3) also claimed its highest ever slot in the AP Top 25.

VOLS’ CHARGE

Tennessee (17-5) has won five straight games — the last two by a combined 56 points — to reach No. 15, the program’s highest mark since hitting No. 7 in December 2011.

TOP RISERS

Rhode Island joined No. 16 Clemson and No. 20 Michigan in making the week’s biggest climbs of four spots each.

LONGEST SLIDES

No. 22 Wichita State (17-5) had the week’s biggest fall of six spots after losing in overtime at Temple. Duke fell five spots after losing to a St. John’s team that was 0-11 in the Big East, while No. 17 Oklahoma also fell five spots after losing to Texas.

NEWCOMERS

No. 23 Nevada and No. 25 Miami were new to this week’s poll, though both have been ranked multiple weeks this season.

SLIDING OUT

Florida fell out from No. 23 after two losses to unranked teams, while Arizona State fell out from No. 25 in what has been a big decline after a strong start. The Sun Devils went from unranked in the preseason all the way to No. 3 in December, but stand at just 5-6 in the Pac-12.

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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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.