AP Photo/Richard Shiro

Bubble Banter: Clemson is done, N.C. State stays alive

1 Comment

Here is the latest NBC Sports bracket projection.

WINNERS

TCU (NET: 47, SOS: 34): The Horned Frogs were sitting as a No. 11 seed entering Tuesday, and it looked like they were going to cruise to an easy win against Oklahoma State. They then blew a 21 point second half lead and needed to rally down the stretch to win. At the end of the day, all that is going to matter is the win, which improves their record against Q1 and Q2 opponents to 9-12. TCU is probably safe regardless of what happens at this point, but they would be able to just about lock up their bid with a win over Kansas State in the quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon.

N.C. STATE (NET: 32, SOS: 216): The Wolf Pack are getting closer to the bubble, but for my money they are not there yet. They now have three Q1 wins — Auburn (17) at home and Clemson (36) and Penn State (49) on a neutral — but they have a pair of Q3 losses and a total of 10 wins against Q4 opponents, an embarrassing number for a power conference. That’s what happens when you play the 353rd-ranked schedule, good for DFL — Dead Freakin’ Last — in all of college basketball.

My advice? Beat Virginia and remove any doubt, because a loss might relegate the Wolfpack to the NIT.

ST. JOHN’S (NET: 66, SOS: 76): The Johnnies knocked off DePaul in the first round of the Big East tournament on Wednesday night, which actually matters because DePaul had swept St. John’s during the regular season. It’s also important because the Johnnies were one of the four teams in a play-in game in our most recent bracket projection, and adding another Q3 loss certainly would not have helped. More important, however, is the fact that this win pits St. John’s against a Marquette team that has lost four straight games heading into the Big East tournament and was swept by the Johnnies during the regular season.

LOSERS

CLEMSON (NET: 36, SOS: 33): The Tigers have to be out. They have good computer numbers, but the simple fact of the matter is that they are 1-10 in Q1 games. That’s few Q1 wins that Belmont and Lipscomb have, and those two teams had a fraction of the chances to land them.

And look, I get why Clemson’s metrics are good. They lost at home by two against North Carolina (7). They lost by one at Louisville (24). They lost two games to N.C. State (32) by two points and one point, respectively. They lost by two at home to Nebraska (51). They lost by one at Miami (94). That’s six losses by a total of nine points, and it doesn’t count a five point loss to Creighton (52), an eight point loss at Syracuse (42) or a nine point loss at Florida State (17).

Clemson should count as a quality win for those teams because being able to play this many good teams close mean’s you are a good team.

But winning also has to matter. The difference in a one point win and a one point loss when it comes to their impact on KenPom or the NET is marginal at best, but it should make all the difference in the world when it comes to accomplishment. Clemson losing close games to good teams should not be looked at as a positive, especially not when they lost all of them.

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.