While you were enjoying the final moments of the college football season during Monday's national championship game, we were still digesting the chaos of a season unlike any in the history of college basketball.
It all started when the FBI busted a bribery ring and arrested four Division I assistants in September. Most assumed the monumental investigation would linger all season and dominate every subsequent conversation about college basketball in 2017-18.
We were wrong.
Because Trae Young -- think Steph Curry meets Jason Kidd -- happened in, of all places, Norman, Oklahoma.
And Young's best friend, Michael Porter Jr., created a buzz at Missouri that the Tigers hadn't experienced in years, but a back injury interrupted his season and robbed Cuonzo Martin's program of a projected NBA lottery pick. We didn't know a brief, two-minute stretch against Iowa State in the season opener for both teams would potentially offer the last opportunity to see Porter on a collegiate court.
Arizona started at No. 2 in the preseason polls. Then, the Wildcats lost three in a row in the Bahamas and dropped from the polls. They rose again. But now Sean Miller says he can't reach his team. Yes, it's all confusing. But it's not as convoluted as freshman Collin Sexton nearly leading Alabama to a win over Minnesota after all but two of his teammates had either fouled out or been ejected in what's now known as the "3-on-5 game."
Markelle Fultz left Washington to become the No. 1 pick last summer. And then Washington traveled to Kansas City and beat Kansas months later without him. A new day for the Huskies and first-year head coach Mike Hopkins? Not exactly. They lost to Gonzaga by 27 points four days after the Kansas win.
Arizona State was the No. 1 team in America for a stretch. In basketball, not partying.
And Rick Pitino is coaching from his couch, the most high-profile personality to lose a job after the FBI investigation.
It's only the second week of January, but it feels as if we've lived through five seasons.
Now that the college football season is over, you'll need our help to sort through the chaos and determine what really matters in college basketball right now.
We're here for you.
Set your DVR for every Trae Young game
We're not joking.
He's as smooth as any point guard we've seen at this level in the past decade. But he didn't arrive with the fanfare that preceded the one-and-done campaigns of John Wall, Derrick Rose and Lonzo Ball.
Yes, he was a five-star kid, but he has surprised everyone with his performance in the first two months of the season.
Here's what you need to know: Young has turned an 11-win Oklahoma squad into a Big 12 title contender and a squad with the potential to reach the second weekend of the NCAA tournament and maybe more. Now he's shooting up the mock draft boards and drawing droves of NBA scouts and executives to his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma.
He leads the nation with a 55.6 percent assist rate, per KenPom.com, while averaging 29.4 PPG. Here's what that means: You'll either see Young score or register an assist on most possessions. That's rare and remarkable.
He's the most exciting player in college basketball. And he's the best player in college basketball, too.
The hype is valid.
We don't really have a No. 1 team ... just a bunch of No. 2s
Michigan State's lopsided loss at Ohio State on Sunday only highlighted the ongoing pursuit of a true No. 1 team. The truth is we probably don't have one this season.
But college basketball is anchored by a collection of teams worthy of inclusion in a massive No. 2 pool. That West Virginia squad that swarmed Young (8-for-22, 8 turnovers) and Oklahoma on Saturday deserves consideration. Villanova is backed by stars Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, and when the Wildcats defend -- worst adjusted defensive efficiency since 2011 -- they're capable of beating any opponent in the country.
Virginia won't win an award for Most Exciting Performance by a College Basketball Program in a Major Conference. The Cavaliers and their fans don't care, though. They're the best defensive team in America. And only two of their 15 opponents have scored more than 60 points this season.
Texas Tech has won eight in a row, a stretch that includes a rare road win at Kansas last week. Purdue hasn't lost since Nov. 23.
And a reinvigorated Wichita State is dangerous. Markis McDuffie finished 4-for-5 from the 3-point line in Sunday's 95-57 win over South Florida on Saturday, his fourth game back after missing most of the season with a foot injury.
The big men reign
The field lacks great teams. But college basketball is blessed with a variety of big men who have commanded the spotlight.
Arizona's Deandre Ayton is a 7-foot-1, 250-pound force averaging 20.4 PPG and 11.6 RPG while still improving. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski has called Marvin Bagley III "the most unique player I've ever coached."
Mohamed Bamba is a 6-11 defensive titan averaging 4.6 BPG for Texas.
Saint Mary's Jock Landale is averaging 21.3 PPG and 10.2 RPG.
Although he doesn't take many shots from beyond the arc, Michigan State's Jaren Jackson Jr. has made 43 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Purdue's Isaac Haas, who is 7-2 and 290 pounds, is averaging 14.7 PPG and connecting on nearly 80 percent of his free throws. And Seton Hall's Angel Delgado has finished 13 of 16 games with a double-double.
A big man hasn't won Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four since Anthony Davis earned the honor in 2012.
That drought could change this season.
The FBI probe didn't shut the game down, but it damaged multiple teams chasing conference titles
After the FBI arrested four Division I assistant coaches attached to a broad bribery scheme that involved financial advisors and a high-ranking Adidas official, many assumed college basketball would never repair its damaged reputation.
That was in September.
Today, the season feels normal, even with the ongoing FBI investigation. But the scandal left a mark. Louisville, perhaps a preseason Final Four sleeper, is struggling in the post-Rick Pitino era. David Padgett, who replaced Pitino after Louisville dismissed the longtime coach in September due to his alleged role in a pay-for-play scheme, is doing his best, but the Cardinals have failed to meet expectations.
USC's De'Anthony Melton (8.3 PPG), a legit NBA prospect, has been ruled ineligible due to the school's investigation into his connection to the bribery scandal. He would have helped a USC squad with a résumé that's stained by losses to Washington and Princeton. The Trojans returned their key players and started the year as a Pac-12 contender. Right now, they don't even have an NCAA tournament-worthy résumé.
Arizona's Sean Miller told reporters he "can't reach" his squad following Saturday's road loss to Colorado, which also defeated Arizona State last week. Book Richardson, who was arrested in the FBI probe, helped Miller connect with his players as his longtime assistant. He was the good cop to Miller's bad cop in pivotal moments. Now he's gone.
Kansas freshman Billy Preston, a five-star recruit, is not tied to the FBI investigation. But he's currently sidelined by the investigation surrounding the car he was driving during an on-campus accident. Preston's mother claims he is innocent, but the vehicle has triggered an NCAA probe. Kansas, like other schools around the country, is more cautious this season about any potential violation or problem after the FBI held a news conference and threatened to make additional arrests.
The FBI scared college basketball's powerbrokers. And now the game waits for a conclusion.
Kansas could lose its control of the Big 12
Yes, we are serious. Entering the season, Bill Self had suffered just 10 losses at Allen Fieldhouse during his tenure. The Jayhawks will start the second week of January with two home losses this season.
The Jayhawks remain a talented assembly with a strong trio of guards -- Devonte' Graham, Malik Newman and Svi Mykhailiuk -- and a serious threat in a league with six teams ranked within the top 50 on KenPom.com in adjusted defensive efficiency.
But they have to deal with Young and Oklahoma. Jevon Carter is the best two-way player in America. And his West Virginia team could steal the league's title. Keenan Evans is averaging 17.2 PPG for a scary Texas Tech team.
Kansas will improve, however, if and when Preston and Silvio De Sousa join the squad. And it's always important to couch any predictions about a squad with 13 consecutive Big 12 titles.
But Kansas seems as vulnerable as it has ever been under Self.
The ACC feels wide open
Right now, North Carolina is stumbling without the powerful frontcourt that helped the Tar Heels win their third national title under Roy Williams last season. And a Duke team that lost at NC State on Saturday is ranked 60th in adjusted defensive efficiency on ESPN.com.
The Blue Devils are a great offensive team that's playing some of its worst defense under Mike Krzyzewski while hurting from limited depth.
That's why Virginia's rise matters. Clemson's Brad Brownell started the season with an uncertain future. Now, his squad is riding a 10-game winning streak. Miami recovered from a bad stretch that included losses to New Mexico State and Georgia Tech by defeating Florida State at home on Sunday. Leonard Hamilton's squad beat North Carolina in a thriller last week.
By the time North Carolina and Duke address their deficiencies -- if they can -- they might both be looking up at new champion in the ACC.
Kentucky is unpredictable
You can't judge the Kentucky Wildcats off one solid performance. In a win over Louisville last month, they looked like this aggressive, athletic, rim-protecting and explosive crew capable of lassoing the SEC and winning another league title before emerging as the Imposing Team You Don't Want To See In March.
On Saturday and again on Monday, John Calipari questioned their toughness after they committed 16 turnovers and were outscored 47-28 in the second half of a 76-65 loss at Tennessee.
Five-star prospect Jarred Vanderbilt remains sidelined by a foot injury. But Kentucky is stacked with more freshman talent than any team in America outside Durham. They're inconsistent on defense around the rim, and they can't make free throws.
So it's still too early to paint a definitive picture of the Wildcats.
And that's the theme of the SEC. Florida and Auburn are heating up. Texas A&M is hoping to prevent a freefall.
But this mess of a league is full of promise.
The SEC entered the week with eight teams ranked No. 52 or higher in ESPN's BPI.
Wichita State vs. Cincinnati is the best conference title battle
On Sunday, Wichita State trounced South Florida, with Markis McDuffie making four 3-pointers in his fourth game of the season after missing the start of it with a foot injury. The Shockers are approaching full strength, although Conner Frankamp missed the game due to the flu.
The Shockers, led by point guard Landry Shamet, should challenge Cincinnati for the American Athletic Conference title in one of the most exciting races in the country.
Cincy is a great defensive team, and Wichita State possesses a versatile offense filled with shooters (41.4 percent from the 3-point line).
The duel between the two contenders should elevate the AAC and produce one of America's most attractive conference races.