It is not enough that this season’s edition of the NCAA basketball tournament looks like it will be the most wide open event in more than a decade.
It’s not enough that there is no CLEAR CUT No. 1 team, or even four No. 1 seeds.
It’s not enough that even the conference tournaments should provide their own sense of drama, with more than a dozen teams in the “bubble” category, which means that they will probably have to win a game or two in their conference tournaments, which begin this week.
No, now we have a major scandal brewing, with charges and counter charges and denials, involving as many as 20 major programs, and an FBI–not NCAA (not yet)– investigation.
And this was preceded by the NCAA announcement that Louisville, which has been plagued by scandal the past five years, had its appeal to the NCAA rejected and was forced to vacate its 2013 national championship (first time that has ever happened) in men’s basketball, which came several months after basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were dismissed.
And now we have the University of Arizona involved in what could be another major scandal, in which basketball coach Sean Miller has now stepped away from his duties–perhaps permanently.
Oh, in case you were wondering, besides Arizona, schools such as Michigan State, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky all have been mentioned as possible violators.
With Selection Sunday only two weeks away and the NCAA basketball tournament–a billion dollar revenue producer for the NCAA–looming, college basketball is under a state of siege in which no one knows the ultimate outcome.
Here’s what we think we know:
The Big Ten will begin its tournament in New York City this week, which is a week earlier than usual. How that week of idleness (before Selection Sunday) plays itself has yet to be determined. Since the Big Ten wanted to play in Madison Square Garden it had to use the dates available and the Garden wasn’t available during tournament week since the Garden has a long term commitment with the Garden.
What makes it even more intriguing is that this an off year for the Big Ten, which looks like it will have only four teams in the NCAA tournament (Michigan State, Purdue, Michigan, Ohio State).
The ACC could have as many as 10 teams in the field, although teams such as Syracuse and NC State still have some heavy lifting remaining.
The Pac-12 remains a puzzle with no sure things in anything now that Arizona has its problems. USC and UCLA keep flirting with the cut line, as do Washington and Utah and Arizona State.
The Big 12? How far do you drop Oklahoma, which went from a Top 4 seed to a bubble team in the past several weeks?
The No. 1 seeds? Villanova, Xavier, Virginia and….Kansas, Michigan State, Auburn, Purdue? (Choose 1)
Since we don’t have to do it yet, we will hold off doing our seed and tournament projections until the regular season is over and then we will make adjustments as the results from the conference tournaments are posted.