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Big Ten, Big 12, ACC all ban fans from conference tournaments

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March Madness 2020 continues to change due to coronavirus, as the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 tournaments banned fans the COVID-19 outbreak.

While fans were allowed into the events for Wednesday night’s games, they will be barred from attending the remaining games in both league’s ongoing conference tournaments. The Pac-12 and SEC all played games on Wednesday night and have not yet provided an update on their status moving forward.

Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told reporters that the plan is for fans to be allowed to attend games moving forward — the arena was open to fans for Wednesday night’s games — but that they will evaluate moving forward, adding that she is waiting for input from the city of New York. A source told NBC Sports that the Atlantic 10 is holding a board of directors meeting on Wednesday night and that a decision on what they will be doing moving forward is expected tonight. The American has not yet started their conference tournament.

The ban begins with Thursday’s games. All three conferences allowed fans at the tournaments when they started. But earlier on Wednesday, the NCAA announced that fans wouldn’t be allowed in the 2020 NCAA tournament. It’s sparked a response from many of the nation’s top conferences in the midst of a chaotic postseason stretch.

For the Big Ten, it’s the start of a larger ongoing initiative that bans fans from all remaining winter and spring Big Ten sporting events.

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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed the league’s decision to continue the tournament without fans during a press conference on Wednesday.

“Beginning with tomorrow’s tournament games, we will be implementing limited access, he said. “Teams will have access to 125 tickets. AD’s have decided that tickets will go to guest of student athletes.”

The ACC sent out their release late on Wednesday night.

“All games will be played with only essential tournament personnel, limited school administrators and student-athlete guests, broadcast television and credentialed media members present,” the statement read.

MORE ON THE CORONAVIRUS IMPACT ON MARCH MADNESS

The Ivy League already cancelled its conference tournament completely earlier this week. Teams like Chicago State have also cancelled road trips earlier this month. The Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 are just the latest conferences to make decisions based on public health.

“The main priority of the Big Ten Conference is to ensure the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, fans and media as we continue to monitor all relevant information on the COVID-19 virus on a daily basis,” the Big Ten said.

March Madness 2020 has certainly been turned upside down by coronavirus. Competing in buildings without fans is a new experience for one of America’s most popular sporting events. March Madness is associated with rowdy fanbases at conference tournaments and NCAA tournament games. That won’t be the case in 2020 with public health becoming a growing concern with coronavirus.

Archie Miller compares bracketology to Sesame Street after Indiana’s loss

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Archie Miller isn’t a fan of bracketology.

The science of predicting the NCAA tournament has gained a massive following. Nearly every site that covers college basketball has a bracketologist. It’s even become a hobby for many who follow the sport.

With Indiana hovering close to the bubble, however, Miller is not pleased at how some perceive his team entering next week’s Big Ten tournament.

Indiana lost a tough home game to Wisconsin on Saturday to drop to 9-11 overall in the Big Ten. Many bracketologists have Indiana safely in the field at this point. But it’s perhaps a little too close for comfort for Miller and Hoosier faithful.

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So Miller took time in his postgame press conference to unload on bracketology. Comparing it to children’s television and Sesame Street, Miller didn’t hold back with his thoughts.

Miller makes some sound points regarding his team. Indiana’s earned plenty of quality wins this season. The Big Ten is the deepest conference in the country. Keep in mind, Miller is also facing external pressure to bring a once-proud program back to national prominence.

But Indiana is below .500 in conference play. The Hoosiers are a mediocre 5-10 in Q1 games. Indiana has quality wins but also a lot of missed opportunities. So while Indiana should be in the Field of 68 next Sunday, there’s also a reason they’re in this position.

 

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.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Tennessee stuns No. 6 Kentucky; Rutgers, Michigan State earn notable Big Ten wins

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Super Tuesday captured much of the nation’s attention as the schedule was light on college basketball action. Plenty of notable results still came through.

Tennessee stunned No. 6 Kentucky with a comeback road win at Rupp Arena. And in the Big Ten, Rutgers might have punched its NCAA tournament ticket with a win over No. 9 Maryland. Meanwhile, No. 16 Michigan State stayed hot with its third straight win over a top-20 team at No. 20 Penn State.

1. Tennessee stuns No. 6 Kentucky with second-half comeback road win

The night’s biggest upset belonged to Tennessee.

The Volunteers used an impressive second-half comeback to beat No. 6 Kentucky, 81-73, at Rupp Arena.

Tennessee was down by as many as 17 points. Trailing by 11 at the half, it looked like the Wildcats were completely in control. Riding an eight-game winning streak entering Tuesday night, Kentucky was a team peaking at just the right time before the postseason began. Now, after another puzzling loss to an unranked team at home this season, we just have additional question marks about how good (and consistent) this Wildcats team might actually be.

John Fulkerson deserves a massive amount of credit for Tennessee’s win. Soundly outplaying Kentucky’s talented group of big men, Fulkerson finished with 27 points and and six rebounds on 10-for-15 shooting. Fulkerson was tough to guard one-on-one and his established presence inside helped Josiah Jordan-James (16 points), Yves Pons (15 points) and Jordan Bowden (11 points) all get going.

Kentucky looked disjointed at times during the second half as they completely derailed after a promising start. Tyrese Maxey had a solid night with 21 points. But Maxey didn’t have a lot of consistent help. Immanuel Quickley (14 points on 4-for-14 shooting) and Nick Richards (12 points) both had issues scoring in the half court. And Kentucky’s bench only accounted for a handful of points as nobody else stepped up.

In the grand scheme of things, this outcome probably doesn’t have many direct implications on the NCAA tournament. Tennessee still has to likely win the SEC tournament to even sniff the NCAA tournament. And Kentucky was always going to have a difficult time catching up to the current projected No. 1 seeds — barring an unforeseen collapse.

The biggest takeaway here is that Kentucky is still capable of mental lapses against mediocre teams that can cost them games.

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2. Rutgers earns its biggest win of the season over No. 9 Maryland

The Scarlet Knights might be dancing for the first time since 1991.

Rutgers earned its biggest win of the season with a decisive 78-67 win over No. 9 Maryland. A No. 11 seed in CBT’s latest Bracketology, Rutgers was stuck in last-four-byes status before Tuesday night’s win. Losing four of five entering Tuesday, Steve Pikell’s club needed to stop its recent freefall. But with another high-quality Q1 home win, the Scarlet Knights should breath a little easier entering the home stretch.

Jacob Young (17 points), Montez Mathis (15 points) and Geo Baker (11 points) led a balanced effort for Rutgers. Shooting an efficient 7-for-16 from three-point range, the Scarlet Knights limited themselves to seven turnovers on offense.

Maryland’s cold shooting also didn’t hurt. The Terps couldn’t buy a bucket from deep, going 6-for-32 from the floor. Besides for Anthony Cowan Jr. (19 points) and a late solid stretch from Jalen Smith (16 points), Maryland’s offense had a mediocre evening.

Now that Rutgers has secured this victory, its Big Ten finale against Purdue this weekend won’t be a dreaded must-win bubble-versus-bubble game. And with Purdue winning at Iowa on Tuesday night, the Boilermakers should enter that game with plenty of confidence. Obviously, the Scarlet Knights would like to win that one and keep momentum going into the Big Ten Tournament. But now that doesn’t feel like a must-win for Rutgers as much as it did before.

But the Rutgers court storm on Tuesday was well-deserved for its long-suffering fanbase. This is a season that fans of that program have waited decades for.

CBT Bracketology

3. No. 16 Michigan State rallies to get past No. 20 Penn State

Izzo in March…

Michigan State continued its late-season surge with an impressive comeback road win over Penn State. Trailing by 15 at the half, the Spartans scored as many points the first 10 minutes of the second half (31) as they had in the entire first half. With Maryland’s loss to Rutgers, Michigan State is now tied with the Terps for the Big Ten conference lead with both teams at 13-6.

Xavier Tillman Sr. put together a monster double-double of 23 points and 15 rebounds. Senior point guard Cassius Winston chipped in an efficient 14 points and seven assists. Perhaps most importantly, Michigan State’s defense showed up in the second half.

After Penn State blitzed the Spartans in the first half with 10 three-pointers, Michigan State didn’t allow a triple during the second half.

Michigan State now has four straight wins with three straight victories coming against top-20 teams. The last two of those wins came on the road.

Although Michigan State was sluggish at times during the season after being ranked No. 1 this preseason, this is currently one of the most dangerous teams in college basketball. The Spartans will get yet another ranked matchup in their regular-season finale when they host Ohio State this weekend.

Rutgers earns biggest win of the season over No. 9 Maryland

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers has inched a little closer to its first NCAA Tournament berth in almost three decades.

Jacob Young came off the bench and scored 17 points and the Scarlet Knights claimed their fourth ranked victim at home with a 78-67 victory over No. 9 Maryland on Tuesday night.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Rutgers (19-11, 10-9 Big Ten) and it was their school record 18th win home this season, tops in the nation. It includes wins over Seton Hall, Penn State and Illinois, who were ranked at the time and still are.

Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell refuses to talk about The Tournament or getting over the hump, insisting his focus is now on the regular season finale at Purdue.

“We have won a lot of games in the best league in the country,” Pikiell said. “We have had the No. 1 schedule in the country, not just in the league, the last seven or eight games. We won against a lot of really good teams. This is another one today. We have one more with Purdue and then the conference tournament.”

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If there is a knock on Rutgers it is the the team’s record on the road. It is 1-10 away from the RAC.

Gio Baker, who added 11 points for Rutgers, is not sure what the NCAA Tournament selection committee thinks about the Scarlet Knights.

“We feel like we are good enough,” Baker said. “I don’t know if we have done enough but we feel like we belong in the tournament. We have the talent with the right team and the right mindset. But we still have more games left.”

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon believes Rutgers should get a bid. The Terps (23-7, 13-6) certainly will despite three losses in their last four games.

“We don’t feel sorry for ourselves,” Turgeon said. “We know who we are. We didn’t get to 23-5 by not being a good basketball team playing a Top-10 schedule in the country. It’s just that this last 72 hours has not gone so well. I love my team. We’re going to bounce back, but we just didn’t have it tonight. Give Rutgers credit.”

Montez Mathis added 15 points for Rutgers, which 49% from the field, including 7 of 16 from long range.

Jalen Smith had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Maryland. Anthony Cowan added 19 points for the Terps, who shot an atrocious 6 of 32 from 3-point range, including 2 of 16 in the first half.

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Young helped break the game open early, hitting his first four shots to ignite a 15-4 spurt that allowed the Scarlet Knights to open a 19-8 lead.

“My coach just tells me to stay ready and be the spark,” Young said.

Cowan and Smith helped the Terps stay close, eventually going to the locker room down 35-29.

The second half was all Rutgers. It hit 10 of its first 14 shots and led by as many as 21 points. Maryland held the lead for less than a minute in the game and only made it close in garbage time.

The game ended with Rutgers fans on the court celebrating a win that had major tournament implications.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: Coupled with No. 16 Michigan State’s win over No. 20 Penn State, the Terps are tied for first place in the conference with one game to go. No. 23 Illinois and No. 24 Wisconsin can move into a first place tie with wins on Wednesday and Thursday.

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are 4-4 in games against AP Top 25 teams and they can taste their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since the 1990-91 season. That was the last year Rutgers won 10 games in a league, going 14-4 in the Atlantic 10.

UP NEXT

Maryland: Finishes the regular season at home against No. 19 Michigan on Sunday.

Rutgers: Ends the regular season at Purdue on Saturday, and a win would probably seal the deal.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

No. 16 Michigan State rallies for road win at No. 20 Penn State

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Xavier Tillman Sr. scored 23 points and had 15 rebounds to lead No. 16 Michigan State over No. 20 Penn State 79-71 on Tuesday night.

Rocket Watts added 18 points, Cassius Winston had 14 and Aaron Henry scored 12 for the Spartans who erased a 46-31 halftime deficit to win their fourth straight.

Myreon Jones led Penn State with 16 points while Lamar Stevens had 15 and Mike Watkins had 12.

The Spartans (21-9, 13-6 Big Ten) trailed by as many as 19 with 4:15 left in the first half, but scored the first nine points to start the second.

CBT’s latest Bracketology

It sparked a dominant stretch of play in the paint for the Spartans who took their first lead of the game with 14:29 to play when Tillman dunked to make it 51-49.

Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions, who made 10 of 17 3-pointers in the first half, went 0-for-10 from long distance to start the second.

The Spartans continued to keep Penn State (21-9, 11-8) at bay from there and used a 14-6 run to take their biggest lead of the night, 65-55 with 9:41 left. John Harrar made back-to-back layups to pull Penn State within two with 4:56 to play, but the Nittany Lions wouldn’t get any closer.

The Nittany Lions used a pair of first-half runs to take control early.

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They opened with a 10-2 advantage that featured two high-amplitude, alley-oop dunks from Watkins and a pair of 3s from Jamari Wheeler and Seth Lundy.

Michigan State cut it to 12-11, but Penn State made seven 3-pointers over the next 7:47 as part of 29-11 run that made it 41-22 with 4:15 left.

The Spartans scored the next eight points before Jones added his fourth 3-pointer of the half and Watkins jammed in his third alley-oop dunk of the half to make it 46-31 at halftime.

THE BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: The Spartans’ looked like a completely different team in the second half to hold on to their current momentum. Their movement away from the ball kept Penn State’s athletic defense guessing and helped Michigan State avoid what could’ve been an embarrassing loss.

Penn State: A startling trend has shadowed the Nittany Lions for a few weeks now. They can’t hold onto a lead no matter how big. They needed a last-minute 3-pointer from Dread to win their last home game after leading by double-digits at halftime and had all the momentum in this one until they went into the locker room.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: Hosts No. 19 Ohio State on Sunday.

Penn State: Visits Northwestern on Saturday.