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Brad Davison’s dirty play, Kobe King’s defection throw Wisconsin into disarray

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Brad Davison is a dirty player.

He’s a cheap-shot artist that has made a habit of cup-checking opponents, and if he was at a program like — oh, I don’t know — Duke instead of Wisconsin, he’d be Public Enemy No. 1 in college basketball instead of a thorn in the side of Big Ten fanbases.

I’ll take it a step further: What Brad Davison is doing is worse than anything Grayson Allen ever did as a member of the Blue Devils. That’s not a defense of Allen, mind you. He behaved like a petulant child, and his inability to control his emotions is the reason he will be remembered as the guy that couldn’t stop tripping people instead of a four-year star that sparked Duke’s most recent national title.

Allen reacted to anger and frustration the same way that my four-year old does, but I don’t believe he was a malicious human being.

Davison is intentionally and deliberately trying to hurt people.

And at this point, I don’t think there’s any other way to say it.

He has now cost the Badgers at least one win.

On Monday night, Wisconsin blew a 12-point lead at Iowa in the final seven minutes. With 30 seconds left, Joe Wieskamp, who was being guarded by Davison, curled off of a screen by Connor McCaffery and scored a bucket to put the Hawkeyes up 62-59. But McCaffery was left in a heap. When the officials reviewed the play, this is what they saw:

That is, as Reags so tactfully puts it, a direct shot to the nuts.

Davison was assessed a Flagrant 1, which gave Iowa two free throws and the ball back. John Adams, the former coordinator of NCAA officials, believes it should have been a Flagrant 2 and an ejection. Suddenly, that three-point lead ballooned to seven and the game was over.

“He grabbed me right in the — where you don’t want to be grabbed in,” McCaffery said of Davison after the game. “He does that. He’s marked for doing that. He’s the type of player, unfortunately, who feels the need to do that stuff. Tonight he cost them the game.”

On Wednesday, the Big Ten opted to suspend Davison for Saturday’s game against Michigan State, meaning that the Badgers — who just lost Kobe King, their second-leading scorer — will be without their starting backcourt against the best team in the conference.

More on King in a second, but I think it’s important to note this first: This is not the first time Davison has done this, either. He did the exact same thing to Marquette’s Joey Hauser in a game last season and to Michigan’s Austin Davis Jon Teske in a game the year before that. That are clips floating around the internet of Davison tripping players on Minnesota and Michigan State. Perhaps the most egregious example of Davison’s dirty play happened last season against Minnesota, when he slid his foot under an airborne Jordan Murphy:

This is no different than what Zaza Pachulia did to Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of the 2017 Western Conference Finals, and if you thought Zaza was trying to injure Kawhi — which plenty of people did — then there is no way you can say different about Davison.

“We will not tolerate behavior that compromises the health and safety of our student-athletes or crosses the line of aggressive, competitive play, especially when a pattern of similar behavior has been previously established,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement announcing Davison’s suspension.

Davison is never going to garner the kind of national recognition that Allen, or Steve Wojciechowski, or Christian Laettner did because he’s a nondescript white kid with a buzzcut that takes a bunch of charges for a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten program. When SEC or Pac-12 fans see videos like this going viral, they wonder how in the world Aaron Craft still has eligibility remaining.

There was more national discussion about King’s decision to transfer yesterday than there was about Davison’s antics. Part of that is because Tyler Herro weighed in on the conversation. Part of it is because Andy Katz, on the Big Ten Network, ripped King’s decision to transfer while citing a source that “is very respected within the Badger program.” (I wonder who that can be …)

Meanwhile, Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard released a particularly passive-aggressive statement on the matter, saying “Being a student-athlete in the Wisconsin basketball program is a special privilege and opportunity and I’m disappointed Kobe has chosen to leave.” He has not yet commented on Davison’s suspension or nut-shots, as far as I can tell.

And at some point, you have to ask whether or not those two things played a role in King’s decision to leave Wisconsin.

Is King quitting on Wisconsin? Yes. Is this timing about as bad as it can be? Yes. I can wholeheartedly understand Gard’s frustration.

But King is making a decision that is the best for him professionally — when was the last time a guard reached the NBA from Wisconsin? — and personally — as King said in his statement, “the best step for my … love of the game” is to leave the program and that should not be ignored — and his coach rips him as someone in the program feeds negative information to a TV talking head. Meanwhile, the starting point guard is out here literally losing the team games because he likes to punch opponents in the crotch, and crickets.

If this is how it plays out publicly, what do you think is happening behind closed doors?

And is King the only kid on that roster that’s fed up with it?

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

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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.