For any fan just getting into college basketball in time for championship week and office pools: What took you so long?
You have some catching up to do. By waiting until the final weeks, you’ve missed a historic season. Certainly, every season is historic for one reason or another, so maybe this season will be among the most memorable even before the NCAA Tournament.
While many teams are fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament from the bubble, another key part of the bracket is still being determined.
A No. 1 seed carries with it not just prestige, but also a decisive advantage history wise to advance to the second weekend of the Tournament. A No. 1 seed has never lost its first game and has more often won the national title (18 times) than it failed to reach the Sweet 16 (13).
The first weekend in March was not a bad way to start the greatest five weeks in the college basketball season.
Wichita State wrapped up an undefeated regular season. Virginia came a little closer to winning the ACC. Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky — all preseason top five teams — looked completely out of sorts.
In other words, unpredictability reigns.
More unlikely storylines are sure to occur as conference tournaments start later this week in most of the traditional one-bid leagues.
One of the main storylines early in the season was the unpredictability of North Carolina. The Tar Heels defeated Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky early in the year but also lost to UAB and Belmont — all before conference play started.
North Carolina was either going to have one of the strangest resumes for any team in the NCAA Tournament or some of the strongest wins for any program to land in the NIT.
Since Jan. 26, though, North Carolina has stabilized for eight consecutive wins heading into tonight’s game against NC State.
With a little more than two weeks to Selection Sunday, the college basketball season almost certainly has a few more surprises even before the NCAA Tournament.
Some of those, though, won’t be many of the best coaching jobs in each league. By now, we know the teams that have overachieved, teams that have faced some of the most adversity and teams that have thrived despite of limitations.
For the most part, we know who is in contention for coach of the year in every major conference even before the invitations to the NCAA Tournament.