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No. 24 Wisconsin rallies to beat Indiana, clinch share of Big Ten title

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Brad Davison and a bunch of Wisconsin players jumped around as the buzzer sounded Saturday, celebrating the end of a five-year Big Ten title drought.

They just wished assistant coach Howard Moore could have been there with them.

Ten months after an automobile accident killed his wife, Jen, and 9-year-old daughter, Jaidyn, and left him with severe burns, Moore was first and foremost in the team’s thoughts after No. 24 Wisconsin beat Indiana 60-56.

“This whole period, this whole year we’ve been thinking about him,” Davison said. “Not a day goes by that we don’t think about him, and obviously this season was dedicated to him. So to go out like this with a regular-season Big Ten championship is crazy.”

Moore’s 13-year-old son, Jerell, suffered minor injuries in the crash that also killed the wrong-way driver who ran into the family’s vehicle. In July, Howard Moore suffered a heart attack and the players haven’t seen him since last summer.

The Badgers assured themselves at least a share of the Big Ten title. Losses by ninth-ranked Maryland and No. 15 Michigan State on Sunday would give Wisconsin the outright title.

“As soon as I can, I am going to take that trophy over to see Howard and let him rub it, and kiss it, and hold it,” coach Greg Gard said. “I cannot be prouder of these three guys that have been through hell and back in the last nine months that we had to face as a team and personally. They’ve stuck together. They’ve been phenomenal. I do not even have words to describe how good they have been.”

All season, Wisconsin players have worn warmup shirts with “4 Moore” on the back. Gard took note of that after this win.

“How ironic that the final difference is four points?” Gard said.

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The Badgers’ achievement this season included a months-long battle with the NCAA over Micah Potter’s eligibility and an uncharacteristic 5-5 start.

Davison’s tiebreaking 3-pointer with 4:05 left gave Wisconsin the lead for good. The Badgers excelled on the other end of the floor, too, holding Indiana to one basket in the final 10 minutes.

Nate Reuvers finished with 17 points and Potter added 14 points and 11 rebounds. Davison made two free throws with 7.1 seconds to seal the win and had 11 points.

Wisconsin (21-10, 14-6) has won eight straight.

Meanwhile, the Hoosiers (19-12, 9-11) lost for the third in four games — and this was one that got away. Indiana broke a 34-34 second-half tie with a 13-5 run and still appeared to be in control after taking a 51-44 lead at the 6:52 mark.

Instead, the Badgers scored 12 straight, forced 12 straight errant shots and never trailed after Davison’s 3. Devonte Green scored all 16 of his points in the first half to lead the Hoosiers.

“They did a great job of being able to claw and hang, and then I thought their front court really finished us off,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said.

Gard found the closing chapter to be fitting.

“That last seven minutes was kind of a microcosm of what we’ve gone through, to fight uphill and find a way to battle back,” he said. “This has been unbelievable — the guts, the heart, the toughness of this group, how they’ve matured. They didn’t have it in November. They have it in March.”

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: The Badgers didn’t follow the traditional script. But they dug down late, found a way to continue their recent dominance in the Indiana series and now head into the conference tournament with momentum and confidence.

Indiana: The Hoosiers may have done enough already to make the NCAA Tournament. But a win over another ranked team might have assured them of a spot in the 68-team field. Instead, Miller must wait a few more days to see if he can record his first 20-win season at Indiana.

STAT PACK

Wisconsin: D’Mitrik Trice missed his first six shots and was shut out in the first half but still managed to finish with four points to become the first junior in school history with 1,000 points, 300 assists and 300 steals. He also had five assists and five rebounds. …Reuvers also had seven rebounds. … Aleem Ford had 12 points.

Indiana: Green got a rare start on senior day and made five of his first eight shots. He finished 6 of 17, going 3 of 8 on 3s. … Race Thompson had seven points and 11 rebounds. … Aljami Durham had nine points and Justin Smith had seven.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: Will make another trip to Indiana for Friday’s quarterfinal round game in the Big Ten Tournament.

Indiana: Must wait for Sunday’s conference games to finish before determining which team and when they will play in the Big Ten tourney at Indianapolis.

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.