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Monday’s Things To Know: Duke survives while Baylor, Texas Tech roll

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Monday is always a slow night in college hoops, but there are still some things that we need to talk about.

These are those things.

1. TEXAS TECH MIGHT HAVE FIGURED THINGS OUT

No. 24 Texas Tech won their third straight game on Monday night, absolutely mollywhopping TCU in Lubbock to the tune of a 88-42 win.

Jahmi’us Ramsey and Davide Moretti both had 17 points in the win. As a team, the Red Raiders shot 59 percent from three. Either Baylor or Kansas — and maybe both — is going to end up winning the Big 12 regular season title, but at this point, it seems like the Red Raiders have solidified themselves as the third best team in that conference.

Perhaps more importantly, it feels like Chris Beard’s team has started to actually figure things out.

Bart Torvik runs a website that is similar to KenPom in the sense that it is an analytics driven database that ranks all college basketball teams based on a number of different stats and algorithms that are beyond the comprehension of my feeble mind. What I do understand, however, is how to tinker with some of the stats that Torvik provides, and one of the cool things about is site is that it allows to you see how a team ranks over a specific period of time. When it comes to Texas Tech, they jumped up into the top 20 nationally with this win over the Horned Frogs, but they are a top five team in the country since January 1st. If you whittle that dataset down to January 26th, the day after the lost to Kentucky and the day before they beat West Virginia at home, Texas Tech has been the best team in all of college basketball.

Most importantly, they seem to have figured out how to take advantage of all the weapons they have on the offensive end of the floor. They’ve ranked as the ninth-best offense in college basketball for the last three weeks. They rank 21st nationally in offensive efficiency since Jan. 1st. That stretch has bumped them up from a team that was outside the top 100 in offensive efficiency to one that sits at 49th on Torvik and 54th KenPom.

Put another way, Kyler Edwards is playing some of his best ball of the season, Davide Moretti is back to being Davide Moretti, Jahmi’us Ramsey is doing what he does and T.J. Holyfield is finally playing like a guy that can be a weapon on the perimeter.

I feel comfortable saying this now: Beard has solved the Rubix Cube that his this year’s Texas Tech team.

2. DUKE BEAT FLORIDA STATE

Jordan Goldwire committed to Duke as an afterthought, an AAU teammate of Alex O’Connell’s that joined the program because the Blue Devils were point guard deficient in the Class of 2017. I’m not sure that, when he committed, anyone would have predicted that he would turn into a starter for a top ten Duke team and a guy that plays a pretty significant role as a glue guy.

On Monday night, he led the team with 13 points, hitting all five of this shots and three threes, as Duke outlasted Florida State in Cameron, 70-65.

The Blue Devils now sit at 21-3 after this win, but I will say this: Duke has won their last two games by a total of seven points after their opponents shot 33-for-58 from the free throw line. Regression has to hit at some point. Just something to keep an eye on.

3. BAYLOR’S WIN STREAK DID NOT END AT TEXAS

In a hideous display of offensive basketball, No. 1 Baylor won their 22nd consecutive game with a 52-45 win in Austin over Texas.

The loss drops the Longhorns to 14-10 overall and just 4-7 in the Big 12. They really only have one good win on the season — at Purdue — and that came all the way back on Nov. 9th, the same day that Baylor suffered their only loss of the season. They’ve now lost three straight games, the latter two were potential marquee wins at home. Four of their next six games are on the road, and one of the home games is against West Virginia.

Things could get really bad for Shaka Smart’s Longhorns in the next three weeks.

Buckle up.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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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

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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.