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VIDEO: No. 1 Virginia survives, wins on banked-in buzzer-beater

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Louisville may have just wiped away their NCAA tournament hopes in the most unfathomable way possible.

After leading No. 1 Virginia by as many as 13 points in the second half, the Cardinals still led 66-62 with six seconds left after a pair of free throws from Darius Perry. On the ensuing possession, they fouled Ty Jerome shooting a three. He made the first two, but on the third free throw, Virginia committed a lane violation. Louisville took the ball out of bounds but no one told Deng Adel that he could not run the baseline.

Turnover.

Virginia ball.

Then this happened:

Virginia wins, 67-66.

This loss is an absolute killer for the Cardinals. It was about as well as you can expect to see them play this season. Deng Adel got into the lane whenever he wanted to, Quentin Snider made some big threes and, most importantly, Louisville’s defense came to play. This should have been their marquee win, the one that earned David Padgett a trip to the NCAA tournament as a an interim head coach.

They still might get there, but they now have that much more work to do.

But to me, the story here is less about Louisville than it is about Virginia.

The Cavaliers are the No. 1 team in the country, and for those that rank teams based on résumé and body of work, there really isn’t much of an argument to be made against that. They are all-but locked into a No. 1 seed, and even with another loss or two UVA looks like they will end up being the No. 1 overall seed. They’re ranked No. 1 on KenPom in large part due to the fact that their defense is operating at nearly-unprecedented levels.

But I have my doubts about their ability to make a run in the Dance, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

The problem?

Virginia just doesn’t have anyone that scares an opponent offensively. Kyle Guy is a talented shooter, but when he’s running off of screens he’s really only a threat to catch-and-shoot. He’s not Joe Harris. He’s not Malcolm Brogdon. Devon Hall can play that role, but I don’t think he’s consistently aggressive enough. De’Andre Hunter is Virginia’s best longterm prospect but he’s not quite ready enough to dominate at this level. Ty Jerome makes a lot of big shots, but he also loves settling for 26-footers in crunch time.

Look at the four possessions that Virginia had on Thursday night after they tied the game at 58. This is what happened:

  • Jerome turns the ball over trying to hand-off to Hall.
  • Hunter gets whistled for a charge.
  • Jerome drives into traffic and gets bailed out on a foul call.
  • Guy drives the ball into traffic and does not.

For me, the concern with this Virginia is really that simple. And it really scares me if they happen to run into a team that is just good enough on the defensive end of the floor.

A team like Louisville.

The Cardinals are not what they have been in the past. They are not one of college basketball’s elite defenses like they were so often under Rick Pitino. But they are a top 20 defense on KenPom, one that can do enough to slow down a team that doesn’t have anyone that sniffs the National Player of the Year conversation.

Virginia fans are going to get this twisted, so let me be perfectly clear: The Wahoos are a top five basketball team in college basketball this season.

But their lack of a go-to scorer makes it difficult for me to see them winning four games in a row in March, let alone making a run to the national title.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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.