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Simpson directs No. 10 Michigan to 74-53 win over Iowa

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CHICAGO — Zavier Simpson was pretty much perfect, and everything fell into place for No. 10 Michigan.

Just another day at the Big Ten Tournament for the Wolverines.

Simpson sparked Michigan’s balanced attack with 10 points and 11 assists, and the Wolverines rolled past Iowa 74-53 on Friday night.

Seeking its third consecutive Big Ten tourney title, third-seeded Michigan advanced to the semifinals for the fourth straight year. It will go for its third win against Minnesota this season when it takes on the surprising Gophers on Saturday afternoon.

“There’s nothing intentional here. We’re just trying to get better every day,” coach John Beilein said. “I think if you go into tournaments and you’re usually a team that doesn’t beat itself during the season, maybe you have some success then.”

It certainly helps to have a point guard like Simpson, who went 4 for 4 from the field and 2 for 2 at the line with just one turnover. The 6-foot junior also played tough defense on Jordan Bohannon, who was averaging 11.7 points before he went scoreless in almost 27 minutes against the Wolverines (27-5).

“We had a great look in our eye. We played good,” Simpson said. “The key today was moving the ball. Guys can shoot, guys can score, guys can drive and penetrate. If we do that, we feel like we’ll be in good position.”

Michigan made 10 3-pointers and placed five players in double figures, bouncing back nicely from Saturday’s disappointing loss to rival Michigan State. Ignas Brazdeikis had 15 points, and Jon Teske had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Luke Garza and Tyler Cook each scored 14 points, but Iowa was ice cold from deep one night after it made 12 3-pointers in an 83-62 victory over Illinois. The Hawkeyes went 1 for 16 from beyond the arc against the Wolverines and shot 36 percent (21 for 59) overall.

“You’ve got to give some credit to our opponent for that, but typically we’re not going to be a team that goes 1 for 16,” coach Fran McCaffery said. “It changes the momentum shifts in the game.”

Iowa (22-11) held Michigan to 32 percent shooting in a 74-59 win on Feb. 1 in their only meeting of the season. But the Wolverines just love this time of year.

Charles Matthews returned from a right ankle injury, and Michigan celebrated with an impressive offensive display. With Simpson calmly directing the show, the Wolverines put away the Hawkeyes with a 15-2 run in the second half.

Brazdeikis and Eli Brooks opened the decisive sequence with 3-pointers. Simpson fed Teske for a jam and then banked a little floater to make it 59-35 with 13:44 remaining.

“We weren’t active on defense,” Garza said. “They were getting wide-open shots. We just can’t do that.”

Matthews had five points on 1-for-9 shooting in his first game back after he got hurt against the Spartans on Feb. 24. The Chicago native got a huge ovation when he was introduced with the starting lineup.

“Without him, we’re not the same team,” Brazdeikis said. “I’m just super excited he’s back. It changes everything for us offensively and defensively.”

WINNING

It was Michigan’s ninth consecutive win in the Big Ten Tournament, snapping a tie with Ohio State for the longest such streak.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa: Bohannon missed each of his two shots from the field, and Joe Wieskamp had just three points on 1-for-5 shooting. The Hawkeyes will need more from the two guards to make any sort of run in the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan: It was the type of efficient performance that makes Michigan a tough out every March. Led by Simpson, the Wolverines finished with 24 assists and seven turnovers. Isaiah Livers scored 13 points and Jordan Poole finished with 11.

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

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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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.