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Best Bets: The best weekend in college hoops this season

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The Vegas lines for these games were not released at the time of this publishing. Score projections from KenPomTorvik and Haslametrics were used in their stead. 

No. 8 SETON HALL at No. 11 CREIGHTON, Sat. 2:30 p.m. (FOX)

  • KENPOM: Creighton 77, Seton Hall 74
  • TORVIK: Creighton 79, Seton Hall 73
  • HASLAM: Creighton 80, Seton Hall 74

It will be very hard for me to be on Seton Hall in this spot. I do think that the Pirates matchup with the Bluejays really well, and Kevin Willard’s club has actually performed pretty well away from home this season. They’ll be ready to play, too — a win means that they win the Big East regular season title outright, and that matters.

That said, Creighton has only lost one game at home this season — Villanova — and none of their wins were by a single possession. They run people out of Omaha. It’s what they do. And they won the first matchup in Newark, 87-82.

BEST BET: If this line opens up around Creighton (-2.5) or (-3), the value will probably be on the Bluejays. But I think it’ll be closer to (-4), at which point I will probably stay away from a side. I want to be on the over. Creighton shoots it very well at home, and I fully expect Seton Hall to play their best. These are two high-powered offenses, especially on the nights when Myles Powell gets it going. Shootout, anyone?

SATURDAY UPDATE*: Creighton is (-3.5), so I think that the best should be the Bluejays. That said, the over still seems like the best (and most fun) bet to make today.

No. 14 VILLANOVA at GEORGETOWN, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (FOX)

  • KENPOM: Villanova 75, Georgetown 72
  • TORVIK: Villanova 75, Georgetown 71
  • HASLAM: Villanova 75, Georgetown 69

Villanova is coming off of a win at Seton Hall that kept them in the mix for the Big East regular season title. Seton Hall and Creighton tip off after this game ends, which means that Villanova will still have a chance to win a share of the league title. Georgetown has spent the last two months playing with just seven scholarship players on the nights where Mac McClung and Omer Yurtseven are actually healthy. The Hoyas are off the bubble by now and are locked into a spot in the Big East tournament, so they have nothing to play for.

BEST BET: I am going to be all over Villanova. I’m guessing the line opens up at (-4.5), and I like them all the way up to (-6.5).

SATURDAY UPDATE*: Of course, the line opened at Villanova (-7) and moved to (-7.5). There’s no way I bet anything other than Villanova in this spot, but that line is getting awfully high.

No. 10 LOUISVILLE at No. 22 VIRGINIA, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Louisville 56, Virginia 55
  • TORVIK: Louisville 56, Virginia 55
  • HASLAM: Louisville 55, Virginia 53

Virginia has won ten of their last 11 games. They are a game out of first place in the ACC title race. They are one of the nation’s best defenses, and a win over Louisville would give them a shot at winning a share of the regular season title. And while this is 100 percent anecdotal, Virginia always plays well against the Cardinals. That’s what happens when Pack-Line plays Pack-Line I guess.

BEST BETS: If UVA is getting points here that’s where my money will be.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: At Virginia (-1), I don’t love the value but I do think they are the right side.

NORTH CAROLINA at No. 12 DUKE, Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Duke 83, North Carolina 68
  • TORVIK: Duke 84, North Carolina 70
  • HASLAM: Duke 85, North Carolina 69

North Carolina has won three straight games. Cole Anthony is playing his best basketball of the season. North Carolina has some revenge to enact on the Blue Devils, who somehow found a way to win a game they had no reason to win in Chapel Hill a month ago. And Duke will be playing with a chance to win a share of the ACC regular season title.

This is a lost season for UNC. This would be the best way to make this season memorable.

BEST BETS: If North Carolina is going to be getting 14-16 points, I will have multiple units on it. I’m expecting this line to open closer to (+10.5) or so, and I’ll still be on the Heels at that price.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: The line opened at UNC (+9.5) at my book. I think that’s where the value is, but I’m going to hold off and hold that the line moves before tip.

No. 25 MICHIGAN at No. 9 MARYLAND, Sun. 12:00 p.m. (FOX)

  • KENPOM: Maryland 71, Michigan 68
  • TORVIK: Maryland 70, Michigan 69
  • HASLAM: Maryland 69, Michigan 67

Maryland is coming home after an embarrassing loss at Rutgers that came after a blowout home loss against Michigan State. The Terps still have a chance to win the league’s outright regular season title, and a win over Michigan would earn them a share of the title. The Wolverines looked like they might have gotten some things figured out against Nebraska on Thursday night, but a lot of teams have looked good against Nebraska this season.

BEST BET: Process tells me that Maryland should be the play here, but I don’t want to bet on Maryland. That never feels comfortable, so I’ll be staying away from this game personally.

No. 19 OHIO STATE at No. 16 MICHIGAN STATE, Sun. 4:30 p.m. (CBS)

  • KENPOM: Michigan State 72, Ohio State 68
  • TORVIK: Michigan State 71, Ohio State 67
  • HASLAM: Michigan State 71, Ohio State 66

Ohio State has been playing great over the course of the last two months.

But this is Cassius Winston’s senior night.

There’s no way I’ll be fading the Spartans in this spot.

BEST BET: I’ll wait to see what the number is before making a bet here, but I’ll be on Michigan State if I am going to be betting this game.

No. 24 WISCONSIN at INDIANA, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Indiana 65, Wisconsin 63
  • TORVIK: Indiana 64, Wisconsin 63
  • HASLAM: Indiana 64, Wisconsin 63

The Badgers have managed to play their way into first place in the Big Ten, winning seven straight games. Five of those wins came at home, and one of the road wins was Nebraska. Beating Michigan in Ann Arbor was impressive, as was a 13 point win over Ohio State in Madison, but for the most part, this winning streak has been about what we should have expected.

Which is why I like Indiana in this spot. The Hoosiers are probably on the right side of the bubble right now, but they could really use another elite win to get themselves out of the 8-9 game. Wisconsin would qualify as such.

BEST BET: I’ll be on Indiana here. Hopefully we can get it at (pk), but I’m assuming we’ll probably be laying 2-2.5 points.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: The line opened at Indiana (-1.5) and moved to Indiana (-2). The Hoosiers seem like the play here.

No. 1 KANSAS at TEXAS TECH, Sat. 2:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Kansas 68, Texas Tech 64
  • TORVIK: Kansas 68, Texas Tech 64
  • HASLAM: Kansas 69, Texas Tech 63

Kansas is looking to start a new Big 12 title streak with an outright Big 12 title, but the Red Raiders will be playing for their NCAA tournament life. Texas Tech has lost three straight games. They are sitting at 18-12 on the season, and a loss to Kansas on Saturday combined with a loss in the Big 12 tournament would mean that they have 14 losses on the season. How often do teams get at-large bids with 14 losses in a season?

As far as the matchup is concerned, I do think that it favors Kansas. The Jayhawks are terrific at switching on defense, and they have college basketball’s best anchor in Udoka Azubuike. Texas Tech kept things close at Kansas because they shot really well from three. I think the Jayhawks get this done.

BEST BET: I’m going to stay away from this game. I think the line is going to open up around Kansas (-5.5), and I do think that the value at that point would be on Texas Tech, but they’re averaging 59 points in the last three games — including an overtime loss at Baylor — and that’s not going to get it done against the best defense in college hoops.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: At Kansas (-3.5) and 133.5 points, I think the best to make is the Jayhawks but the over seems like a better bet.

No. 4 BAYLOR at WEST VIRGINIA, Sat. 1:00 p.m. (ESPN+)

  • KENPOM: Baylor 65, West Virginia 64
  • TORVIK: Baylor 65, West Virginia 63
  • HASLAM: Baylor 63, West Virginia 62

Baylor will still have a chance to win the Big 12 regular season title when this game tips off. We talked about this the last time that the Bears faced off with the Mountaineers, but the way Baylor’s defense is built — switching, forcing baseline, anticipating help — it makes guards have to create in isolation and shooters hit kick out threes. WVU’s guards stink, and they cannot shoot.

BEST BET: If this line opens up at Baylor (-1), I will be hammering the Bears. I also think the under is in play if the total opens at 130 or higher.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: Baylor is getting a point. Their moneyline is -106. Mark Vital is a game-time decision, which is concerning, but the Bears are better than West Virginia no matter how you slice it. This is my favorite bet of the day.

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.