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Final Four dream died, but Carsen Edwards still heads home a March legend

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What do you remember about the 2008 NCAA Tournament?

Can you tell me who was in the Final Four? Off the top of your head, do you know who won the title that year?

Kansas fans sure do. Memphis fans probably do as well. But for the rest of America, the lasting image of that NCAA tournament was some skinny 20-year old from Davidson setting the world on fire. That was the year that Stephen Curry became Steph. He put 40 on Gonzaga in the first round. He had 30 against No. 2 seed Georgetown and Roy Hibbert in the second round. No. 3 seed Wisconsin caught 33 in the Sweet 16, setting up a showdown with Bill Self for the right to get to the Final Four.

The Wildcats would end up losing in the Elite Eight despite 25 points from Curry, but that didn’t change the fact that the 2008 tournament was Steph’s tournament.

This year’s tournament is far from over, but it has the distinct feel of being an event we remember for Carsen Edwards going nuclear as much as anything else.

Edwards had 42 points on Saturday night in Purdue’s overtime loss to Virginia. It was the second time in the span of six days that he dropped 42 points, something that had not happened in the NCAA tournament in 15 seasons prior to this year. One of those 42-point performances came against the reigning national champs, Villanova. The other came against the best defensive basketball program in the sport in UVA. In the proces, he became the first player to score at least 25 points in each of the first four games of the NCAA tournament since Steph did it in 2008.

The show that he put on in the Yum! Center on Saturday night is not something that is soon going to be forgotten.

The man they call C-Boogie came to the tourney to dance, and he danced all over anyone that got in his way.

Edwards was probably always going to be drafted whenever he decides to leave school, but what he during over the course of the last nine days might be enough to get his name called in the first round as early as this June. The NBA is always looking for athletic, shot-making microwave scorers that can come off the bench and put up 25 points on a given night, and Edwards should be able to thrive in that role. And while NBA scouts have known for a long time that this kind of shot-making is something that Edwards is capable of, seeing him to it to this degree on this stage against this defense is staggering.

When you consider the context of what Edwards did, you’ll understand.

As I detailed in the video breakdown below, what Purdue wants to do on the offensive end of the floor is to run dribble-handoff actions to create shots for Ryan Cline and chances for Carsen Edwards to turn a corner and get downhill with a defender on his hip. Virginia completely took this away by guarding these DHOs like they would a ball-screen, with the big — Mamadi Diakite and Jack Salt — hedging hard and forcing Edwards and Cline further out than they want to be.

What this forced Purdue to do was to turn their offense into the Carsen Edwards Show, allowing him to work off of ball-screens and, eventually, just clear-out 1-4 low and allow Edwards to go make a play:

Put simply: There is no defense in college basketball that is more difficult to do this against, particularly when the guy guarding you is De’Andre Hunter.

And Edwards scored 26 of his 42 points in the second half.

It was one of the most impressive individual performances that I have seen in an NCAA tournament game, one that I am not going to forget anytime soon.

That certainly won’t be any consolation for Edwards or the Boilermakers, as they head back to West Lafayette instead of north to Minneapolis, and it shouldn’t be. I’m sure Edwards would trade every single one of those points for a win, and there is no doubt that he’d trade anything up to a appendage for one more chance at the final possession, a turnover he committed when Purdue had a chance to tie with 5.9 seconds left.

But it is something that Purdue fans will always be able to remember. And it’s the performance from the first two weekends of the tournament that I will carry with me for the longest amount of time.

67 of the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament are going to head home with a loss.

If you’re not going to win the thing, you might as well leave a legacy as a March legend.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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.