"At various times in Kansas's run, the Big 12 has been the best or second-best conference in the country. (Per Ken Pomeroy, that's the case again this year; the Big 12 ranks behind only the Big 10 in overall strength.) At various times in Self's tenure, his competition has recruited and rostered the likes of Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Acie Law, Tristan Thompson, James Anderson, Tony Allen, and D.J Augustin -- and that's literally just the NBA guys that first came to mind. I'm sure there are countless more worthy of inclusion, including future lottery picks like Perry Jones III, or stars like Jacob Pullen, or Missouri's unique lightning-in-a-bottle squad this season. Despite all that, Self has managed to recruit the Jayhawks as well as any coach who came before him. In many years, he's had an embarrassment of talented riches. The sheer fact that Thomas Robinson came off the bench last season should tell you that much. But even in seasons in which Self lost scores of former stars -- like in 2011, when he lost Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry and Sherron Collins, or this season, when he lost two-thirds of his starting backcourt and both starting forwards to graduation and/or the NBA draft, and lost two incoming freshmen to partial qualifier status in the offseason -- he's managed to get the Jayhawks to the top of the league anyway. There might have been some NCAA tournament upsets along the way, and some have been more dramatic than others, but in the biggest sample sizes, against some of the best college hoops talent of the past decade, Self's Kansas program has prevailed. It's a ridiculous, mind-blowing run of success, and we don't talk about it enough." If you'll forgive us the self-quote, that's us, writing all the way back on Feb. 27, 2012, after Kansas coach Bill Self had led his program to its eighth-straight Big 12 regular-season title. Fast-forward three years, and Kansas is astride its league like a colossus. Iowa State's win against Oklahoma on Monday night guaranteed the Jayhawks at least a share of their 11th-straight conference title. Eleven straight! In the Big 12! That the 11th came in one of the best and most punishing editions of the league in decades is just icing on Self's already ridiculous cake. We don't like to quote our old writing. (We hate reading anything we've written, period.) But three years later, it's all still happening. Kansas is still insane. Update the details all you want, but what more is there to say?
On Monday, SEC commissioner Mike Slive weighed in on the terrible, no-good, very-bad idea of freshman ineligibility, and it should speak to the general widespread nature of the nonsense that Slive's wariness, coming from perhaps the most powerful commissioner in college sports, felt like a desperately needed dose of real talk: "To put a blanket over these student-athletes with a year on the bench doesn't address those individual needs to incentivize academic progress. Many students do come to college prepared both academically and athletically ready to compete in the classroom and in competition, and to penalize those students with a universal policy may create unintended consequences not beneficial to many student-athletes. A lot of thought and preparation went into the new initial eligibility rules that go into effect in 2016. It is more appropriate to implement these new regulations and understand their impact before applying additional eligibility restrictions that may be more cosmetic than effective. If this proposal is about student-athletes turning professional, we need to be careful not to create rules for a few that penalize the many. The universe of student-athletes who leave early for professional sports is very small compared to the numbers that participate in football and men's basketball. And just because a student-athlete enters professional sports does not mean he or she has totally abandoned their academic pursuits."
John Gasaway's constantly informative Tuesday Truths is back again, and this time John leads with a little ACC history, as it pertains to the indefatigatable Virginia Cavaliers: "Look at it this way: 32-3 certainly bears comparison with the two best seasons registered by the Cavaliers in the Ralph Sampson era (25-3). And speaking in more recent terms, the Hoos have posted two of the better individual seasons achieved by any ACC team in the seven seasons since Messrs. Lawson and Hansbrough won a title for North Carolina. ... Keep in mind this current rotation includes just one senior (Darion Atkins). It’s fair to say the stylistic debate over Virginia (which I personally suspect is largely though not entirely a kiddie pool diversion for casual fans -- see the matrix) has blinded us to the historical gorilla in the room. If Duke or UNC were doing this there would be coffee table books. Bennett’s handiwork as yet lacks the imprimatur of third-weekend NCAA tournament success, I get that. Still, factoring in the strength of competition at the top of the conference and the program’s prior history, what’s been achieved in Charlottesville the last two seasons is already somewhat extraordinary."
Is this finally Villanova's year?
Washington Post editor Mike Hume delivers an interesting way to visualize the NCAA tournament bubble, and offers a black-and-white historical way to view current teams' chances of making the field. (Hint: RPI above 70? Fuhggeddaboutit.)