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Bubble Banter: Providence, Florida State solidify résumé with critical wins

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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.

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

PROVIDENCE (RPI: 43, KenPom: 72, NBC seed: 10): On Saturday, Providence got whipped at home by Big East cellar-dweller DePaul. My guess is that Ed Cooley let his team know that was not going to fly in practice this week, because they turned around and landed a win over Villanova on Wednesday. The Friars now have six Quadrant 1 wins, which should be enough to outweigh the fact that they have lost to two Quadrant 3 opponents and one Quadrant 4 game. They should be in as long as they go at least 2-3 down the stretch.

FLORIDA STATE (RPI: 48, KenPom: 23, NBC seed: 8): Florida State landed a win over Clemson (4) on Wednesday after trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half. The Seminoles now have a 6-4 record against Quadrant 1 opponents and no losses outside the top two Quadrants. At this point, they will no longer be in the Bubble Banter conversation. They will, however, be back on Sunday if they lose to Pitt.

KANSAS STATE (RPI: 57, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Wildcats landed another Quadrant 2 win on Wednesday, going into Stillwater and picking off Oklahoma State. Kansas State will be interesting come Selection Sunday. They have some good wins — Oklahoma, TCU, at Baylor, at Texas — but no great wins, one bad loss to Tulsa and a terrible non-conference SOS. I think they need to win at least four games the rest of the way. Their final five in the regular season are: Iowa State, Texas, at Oklahoma, at TCU, Baylor. Then there is the Big 12 tournament.

N.C. STATE (RPI: 73, KenPom: 59, NBC seed: Play-in game): The Wolfpack added another Quadrant 1 win to their profile when they went into the Carrier Dome and picked off Syracuse. They are now 5-7 against Quadrant 1 teams, and the fact that they’ve beaten the likes of Duke, Clemson, Arizona and North Carolina on the road should carry serious weight for a committee that showed up during the bracket reveal just how much they value quality wins.

LOSERS

VIRGINIA TECH (RPI: 56, KenPom: 43, NBC seed: 9): Virginia Tech lost at Duke. No shame in that. They are 4-6 against Quadrant 1 opponents and have eight wins against the top two Quadrants with just a single Quadrant 3 loss and three more Quadrant 1 games left on the schedule. Beat Georgia Tech and then go 1-3 in their final four (Clemson, Louisville, Duke, at Miami) and the Hokies are in.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 68, KenPom: 58, NBC seed: Out): The Bulldogs played their way even further out of the bubble picture on Wednesday when they lost at Vanderbilt on a buzzer beater. With just a single Quadrant 1 win, a 4-8 record against the top two Quadrants and a non-conference SOS of 305, they are in a bad place. They may need to go 4-1 in their final five to feel good, and that may not even be enough.

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 98, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: Next four out): The Cowboys have now lost five of their last seven games. The two wins? At Kansas and at West Virginia. They needed to beat Kansas State on Wednesday, if for no other reason than they have three road games, Texas Tech and Kansas left.

SYRACUSE (RPI: 41, KenPom: 46, NBC seed: First four out): The Orange blew a chance to land another Quadrant 2 win on Wednesday night when they lost at home to N.C. State, another team that is right there on the bubble with them. They have just one Quadrant 1 win to their name right now. They will have chances — at Miami, UNC, at Duke, at Boston College, Clemson — so they are anything-but dead at this point, but my best quess would be they beat BC and win two of four against the rest of that group.

BOISE STATE (RPI: 36, KenPom: 55, NBC seed: Next four out): Boise State’s chances of getting an at-large bid are dead. They lost at home to Nevada tonight, meaning they will not have a Quadrant 1 win on Selection Sunday, not if they finish second in the MWC, where they have a one-game lead on third-place with four games left. They need to beat Nevada to land that Quadrant 1 win, but the only way they can currently beat Nevada is if it is in the title game of the MWC tournament.

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.