You want chaos. You want upsets, you want a wide open NCAA tournament field when it is announced next month?
Say hello to College Basketball, 2018.
If the trends of the season are to believed, there is NO clear cut favorite this season. And if you are projecting Final Four teams, you need a list of at least 12 names–maybe more–to have any credibility.
You want examples?
How about St. John’s, which going into last week was winless in the Big East and a long shot to even be eligible for any post season play. All the Red Storm did was beat Duke and then prove that might not have been a fluke by going on to beat No. 1 Villanova.
Look at the Big 12, where Kansas has made winning the conference title an annual event. Last week, the Jayhawks, who had lost conference games to Texas Tech (a surprise at the time) and Oklahoma (not a surprise), walked off their home court at Allen Field House following a 5-point loss to Oklahoma State (a surprise).
In the Pac-12, UCLA was regarded as a “bubble” NCAA team until Thursday night, when they went to Arizona and stunned the first place Wildcats.
In the Big 10, Purdue, a somewhat surprising unbeaten (in the conference) leader, was knocked off by Ohio State, which came up with a game-winning basket with 2.8 seconds left to gain a 64-63 win and end Purdue’s 19-game winning streak, which had been the longest in college basketball.
February Frenzy is setting up as a new prelude to March Madness.
So let’s look at what we have as a possible NCAA tournament field.
Automatic qualifiers (32)
Atlantic 10–Rhode Island
Atlantic Coast Conference–Virginia
Atlantic Sun–Florida Gulf Coast
Big 12– Texas Tech
Big West–UC-Santa Barbara
Colonial Athletic Association–Charleston
Conference USA–Middle Tennessee
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference–Rider
Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference–Savannah State
Missouri Valley Conference–Loyola-Chicago
Mountain West Conference–Boise State
Ohio Valley Conference–Belmont
Southern Conference–East Tennessee State
Southland Conference–SF Austin
Southwestern Athletic Conference–Arkansas-Pine Bluff
Summit Conference–South Dakota State
Sun Belt Conference–Louisiana
West Coast Conference–Saint Mary’s
Western Athletic Conference–New Mexico State
AT LARGE (36)
33. Wichita State
39 North Carolina
40 Virginia Tech
41. Florida State
44. West Virginia
45. Kansas State
48. Seton Hall
53. Ohio State
54. Michigan State
65. Texas A&M
66. Arizona State
67. NC State