The biggest moments from the wildest college basketball season ever

Ball says ref that gave him technical isn't qualified (1:04)

After being given a technical foul while coaching a game Friday, LaVar Ball says the woman who gave him the foul was trying to make a name for herself. (1:04)

Most college basketball seasons span about five months: the beginning of November until the beginning of April. If you want to stretch the start a few weeks back to the beginning of practice, that's fine, too.

But the 2017-18 college basketball season wasn't your usual college basketball season. It lived several lives over nearly 10 months.

It began way back in early June, when Ohio State announced a last-minute news conference: Thad Matta was stepping down as the coach of the Buckeyes. Matta choked up at the conference, and athletic director Gene Smith said that part of the reason was Ohio State wasn't "winning the recruiting battles." It's clear this wasn't Matta's idea. Shortly thereafter, the Buckeyes tabbed Butler's Chris Holtmann as Matta's replacement.

There was, of course, a few LaVar Ball sightings this season. And a wild run of No. 1 teams. And a few phenomenal freshmen.

But the story that hovered over college basketball like a dark cloud all season was the FBI investigation into fraud and corruption from late September, a story that touched several programs, coaches and players. But that wasn't even the first major story of the season.

With all of the twists and turns from the past year, it's easy to forget even some of the bigger ones.

From Matta to Sister Jean and everything in between, let's revisit the wild and crazy from the 2017-18 college basketball season.

So many scandals

Sept. 26: The FBI drops a bombshell on college basketball. Assistant coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California were among 10 people arrested on charges of fraud and corruption in an investigation into college basketball and recruiting.

The investigation centered around assistant coaches being paid tens of thousands of dollars to steer NBA-bound players toward sports agents, financial advisers and apparel companies.

The FBI also arrested two Adidas employees, a financial adviser, an AAU club president, a custom clothier -- and recently fired NBA agent Christian Dawkins.

"We have your playbook," FBI assistant director Bill Sweeney said at the time. "Our investigation is ongoing."

The college basketball world is stunned.

Oct. 13: An NCAA investigation that originally began in 2010 finally ends: North Carolina avoids major sanctions in its academic fraud case. No postseason bans, no scholarship reductions. The investigation focused on student-athletes taking classes in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies that often required no attendance, and whether that could be considered an impermissible benefit to the student-athlete. Essentially, the NCAA ruled that because the "paper courses" were offered to all students, whether academic fraud occurred was up to North Carolina to decide and out of the NCAA's jurisdiction.

Oct. 16: Louisville's athletic board votes unanimously to fire Rick Pitino for cause. Pitino was placed on administrative leave on Sept. 27 after the program was linked to the FBI's investigation. Allegations against Louisville include payments of $100,000 to the family of Brian Bowen to sign with the Cardinals.

Nov. 7: Ron Bell, a longtime friend of Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, tells CBS Sports he provided extra benefits to Yellow Jackets players Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson, who were suspended days earlier.

Jan. 26: "I'm not going anywhere," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says, responding to rumors of his job status after Outside the Lines reported the basketball and football programs had past instances of alleged violence against women. The OTL report followed the trial of Larry Nassar, the USA Gymnastics national team doctor and a physician at Michigan State who admitted to sexually assaulting patients and others at the university's sports clinic for nearly 20 years. Athletic director Mark Hollis stepped down earlier that day.

Feb. 8: More Ron Bell vs. Josh Pastner allegations. This time, the Georgia Tech coach is accused of sexual assault by Jennifer Pendley, the girlfriend of Bell, a former Yellow Jackets booster. Pastner had sued the pair in January for defamation and extortion. Pastner responded after a loss at Louisville: "Zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero truth to any of those disgusting, bogus allegations. It's disgusting. And there's zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero truth to that."

Feb. 20: Louisville's national championship banner is coming down. The NCAA denied the school's appeal, meaning the Cardinals have to vacate their 2013 national title and 2012 Final Four appearance. The penalties were a result of an NCAA investigation into a sex scandal within the basketball program. A former Louisville staffer allegedly arranged for strippers to perform sex acts for players and recruits on campus.

"We believe the NCAA is simply wrong," Louisville interim president Greg Postel said following the ruling.

Feb. 23: After a quiet couple of months in regard to the FBI investigation, college basketball is rocked by a Yahoo! Sports report that ties 25 players -- including ones at Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, Texas and a number of other schools -- to potential extra benefits. The report shows expense reports and documents from Dawkins, the former NBA agent at ASM Sports. Several players mentioned in the documents are cleared to play later that day, but Texas' Eric Davis is held out the rest of the season.

Feb. 23: ESPN reports that, on FBI wiretaps, Arizona coach Sean Miller discussed paying $100,000 with Dawkins to ensure Deandre Ayton signed with the Wildcats. Miller sat out Arizona's game against Oregon the next day, but Ayton never missed a game.

March 1: Sean Miller denies the ESPN report. "I have never knowingly violated NCAA rules while serving as head coach of this great program," Miller said. "I have never paid a recruit or prospect or their family or representative to come to Arizona. I never have, and I never will." The school announces he will remain the team's coach and return to the Wildcats' bench for their game against Oregon that night.

What's LaVar Ball doing now?

July 27: The biggest story of the July recruiting period was LaVar and LaMelo Ball in Las Vegas. It opened with a showdown between LaMelo and Zion Williamson, the high-flying dunker and one of the best prospects in the country. They put on a show. Less than two days later, the Balls were locked in their latest controversy. LaVar threatened to pull his team off the court after receiving a technical foul, but instead, the female referee who assessed the technical foul was replaced midgame. Afterward, Ball told ESPN the referee needed to "stay in her lane."


How Alabama ended with three active players

The Alabama bench is ejected, a player fouls out and another gets injured, forcing the Crimson Tide to face the Golden Gophers with just three players over the final 10 minutes.

Nov. 7: In China to play Georgia Tech, UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill are arrested on shoplifting charges. They would return to the United States one week later after it became a global story, with President Donald Trump tweeting about the players and telling reporters he talked to China's president, Xi Jinping, about getting the players released.

Dec. 4: LaVar Ball pulls son LiAngelo out of UCLA. LiAngelo -- along with Riley and Hill -- didn't play a game for UCLA this season, and LaVar had enough.

"I'm not sitting back and waiting," LaVar told ESPN at the time. "He wasn't punished this bad in China. ... I'm going to make him way better for the draft than UCLA ever could have."

LaVar had pulled LaMelo out of Chino Hills High School two months earlier. One week later, LaVar announced that he was taking his two sons to Lithuania to play professionally.

Finally, some actual basketball

On Nov. 10, we finally have opening day of the college basketball season. Six weeks after the shocking details of the FBI investigation, its ramifications hover over the day. Who is playing? Who is sitting out?

Nov. 14: Four of the best teams in the country face off at the Champions Classic. Duke beats Michigan State despite Marvin Bagley III playing just 10 minutes after getting poked in the eye, while Kansas beats Kentucky 65-61.

Nov. 23-26: The first-ever PK80, a Nike-sponsored tournament in Portland, Oregon, is a huge hit. A 16-team, bracket-style event is just what college basketball needed to jump-start the holiday season. Michigan State takes down North Carolina in one bracket, while Duke escapes Florida in the other one. The double-overtime semifinal battle between Florida and Gonzaga was one of the best games of the season.

Nov. 24: Arizona loses to Purdue by 25, suffering its third straight loss at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. In a 13-day span, the Wildcats go from No. 2 to out of the AP Top 25, becoming the first team to do that since 1986-87.

Dec. 5: Villanova beats Gonzaga by 16 at the Jimmy V Classic in New York. It was Mikal Bridges' coming-out party, with the redshirt junior going for 28 points and six rebounds.

Dec. 10: Arizona State wins at Kansas, giving Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils nonconference wins over Xavier and Kansas. ESPN moved Arizona State to No. 1 in its Power Rankings, and the Sun Devils would eventually start the season with 12 straight wins before losing 12 of its final 20 games and losing in the First Four of the NCAA tournament.

Jan. 2: Two of the biggest surprises of the season make headlines. Auburn wins at Tennessee, moving Bruce Pearl's team to 13-1 despite suspending Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley before the season because of the FBI probe. In the Big 12, Chris Beard and Texas Tech go to Lawrence and win at Kansas. The annual discussion of whether this will be the year Kansas' Big 12 title streak ends starts to heat up.

Jan. 3: Marquette's Markus Howard has one of the best single-game performances of the season, going for 52 points and 11 3-pointers in an overtime win at Providence.

Jan. 20: Zion Williamson, the top uncommitted prospect in the country, surprises the recruiting world, committing to Duke over North Carolina, Kentucky and in-state options Clemson and South Carolina. Williamson's pledge gives Mike Krzyzewski and Duke the top three recruits in the country, joining No. 1 R.J. Barrett and No. 3 Cam Reddish.

Jan. 27: Virginia is for real. The Cavaliers go to Cameron Indoor Stadium and beat Duke 65-63. The Cavaliers cement themselves as the No. 1 team in the country.

Feb. 11: Bagley misses Duke's game against Georgia Tech with a "mild" knee sprain he suffered against North Carolina. The lack of details surrounding the injury raises eyebrows in a suspicious, on-edge, college basketball world until he returns. He missed four games before returning against Syracuse on Feb. 24.

Feb. 14: Kentucky loses by 10 at Auburn, marking the first four-game losing streak for the Wildcats under John Calipari. "I failed them," Calipari said after the game. "But they've also failed each other. They don't play for each other."

Feb. 19: Oklahoma bottoms out in a 30-point loss to Kansas, the Sooners' sixth loss in a row. Trae Young finishes with just 11 points, his lowest point total of the season. Once considered a shoo-in for the Wooden Award, Young begins to lose his grip on the trophy, opening the door for Villanova's Jalen Brunson.

Feb. 22: Drexel overcomes a 34-point first-half deficit to beat Delaware 85-83. It set the men's Division I record for the largest comeback in history. The Dragons went on separate 18-4 and 17-4 runs in the second half, and guard Tramaine Isabell hit two free throws with 2.2 seconds left to win.

Feb. 24: Kansas clinches its 14th straight Big 12 title, beating Texas Tech by two in Lubbock. When the dust settled, the Jayhawks ended up on top of the conference standings by two full games. Just another March in Lawrence.

March 1: Virginia comes back from a four-point deficit with less than a second left to beat Louisville. Ty Jerome gets fouled on a 3-point attempt with 0.9 seconds left. He makes the first two free throws and misses the third -- but there's a lane violation on Virginia. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Louisville's Deng Adel illegally runs along the baseline, giving the ball back to Virginia. Virginia inbounds it to De'Andre Hunter, who banks in a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The loss probably keeps Louisville out of the NCAA tournament.

March 4: It's a headline that's strange on the surface. Michigan wins four games in four days to win the Big Ten tournament ... at Madison Square Garden ... a week before Selection Sunday. The Wolverines haven't lost since Feb. 6, as John Beilein has, by far, his best defensive team since arriving in Ann Arbor in 2007.

March 11: When the season ends and the bracket is revealed, Villanova, Virginia, Xavier and Kansas are the No. 1 seeds. Three months after a 34-point loss to Boise State and a week after a Missouri Valley Conference tournament title, Loyola Chicago is a No. 11 seed.

A year for freshmen

Aug. 14: Bagley, who had been the top prospect in the 2018 class, announces his commitment to Duke and reclassification to 2017 -- meaning he will enroll in college later that month. With Bagley in the fold, Duke solidifies itself as the preseason No. 1 team in the country.

Nov. 10: The freshman class loses one of its biggest names just two minutes into the season. On opening night, Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr., the No. 2 overall recruit entering college, played just two minutes against Iowa State -- and missed the next four months with a back injury.

Nov. 26: The season of Trae Young has arrived. The Oklahoma freshman goes for 43 points and seven assists in a win over Oregon. He's averaging 28.2 points and 8.6 assists through five games.

Dec. 30: A month later, the freshman class collectively puts on a show. Oklahoma's Young goes for 39 points and 14 assists; Duke's Bagley has 32 points and 21 rebounds; and Arizona's Deandre Ayton finishes with 23 points and 19 rebounds. Texas' Mohamed Bamba has 22 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks one night earlier against Kansas.

Jan. 6: Despite a string of impressive performances from Young, the first cracks appear in Oklahoma's armor. The Sooners lose by 13 at West Virginia, despite Young going for 29 points and five assists. Jevon Carter wins the head-to-head battle, finishing with 17 points and 10 assists and forcing Young to commit eight turnovers. Young's play, and OU's roller-coaster season, will be a theme until the Sooners' first-round NCAA tournament exit.

March 8: Porter returns for Missouri in the SEC tournament but is not the same player we were all expecting. Rusty from the four-month layoff, Porter goes for 12 points on 17 shots in his first game, then 16 points and 10 rebounds in Missouri's first-round NCAA tournament loss to Florida State.

When all was said and done, Young finished as the NCAA's Division I scoring and assists leader and a first-team All-American. Bagley averaged a double-double while being the ACC Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. Alabama's Collin Sexton, overlooked in some freshman conversations, averaged 19.2 points per game and was named the SEC's top freshman. All three would also leave for the NBA draft after this lone season.

The weird and wonderful

It wasn't all scandals this season.


Sister Jean, the Loyola-Chicago superfan

Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, the 98-year-old Loyola-Chicago team chaplain, discusses her relationship with the Ramblers and guiding them to the Sweet 16.

Nov. 25: Alabama has to play 3-on-5 against Minnesota for the final 10-plus minutes after its entire bench was ejected during a brawl, Dazon Ingram fouled out and John Petty was injured. Alabama cut a 13-point Minnesota lead to three despite the disadvantage, but lost. "I've never, ever, ever seen anything like that in my life," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said after the game.

Jan. 3: Referee Teddy Valentine turns his back on Joel Berry after Berry tries to discuss a no-call with him during North Carolina's game against Florida State. Valentine and Berry appear to bury the hatchet before a game against Georgia Tech on Jan. 20.

Jan. 31: Halftime entertainment mainstay Red Panda gets her unicycle stolen at San Francisco International Airport. "It's like her baby was kidnapped," her agent told KTVU. "She's had that unicycle for 30 years." She takes time to adapt to a new unicycle.

March 17: World, meet Sister Jean. After Loyola-Chicago upsets Miami and Tennessee in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, the Ramblers' not-so-secret weapon is revealed in the form of a 98-year-old nun.

Road to the Final Four

When we finally reached the NCAA tournament, the stain of the FBI scandal was still there -- Louisville, Southern California and Oklahoma State didn't make the field, and Arizona and Auburn drew lower seeds. But also prevalent was the inclusion of young stars like Young and Sexton.

March 16: The biggest upset in the sport's history. UMBC beats Virginia, becoming the first 16-over-1 upset in men's NCAA tournament history. And it wasn't close. The Retrievers won 74-54, dominating all aspects of the game. UMBC coach Ryan Odom -- and the school's Twitter account -- become a national story and take over college basketball for a couple of days.

March 17: Michigan freshman Jordan Poole hits a 30-footer at the buzzer to beat Houston 64-63. Poole had hit one 3-pointer in his previous five games combined and has played just 11 minutes in the two games since his shot.

March 18: In a matter of hours, Nevada erases a 22-point deficit in the final 11 minutes to beat 2-seed Cincinnati; Texas A&M crushes 2-seed North Carolina by 21; and Florida State comes back from down 12 in the final 10:42 against 1-seed Xavier. As a result, Michigan is the only top-three seed remaining on the left side of the bracket -- and for the first time since seeding began in 1979, no top-four seed in a region (in this case, the South) advanced to the Sweet 16.

March 24: The Ramblers makes it to the River Walk. No. 11 seed Loyola-Chicago beats Kansas State by 16 to advance to the Final Four. The Ramblers won their first three tournament games by a combined four points, bolstered by game-winning shots from Donte Ingram against Miami and Clayton Custer against Tennessee.

March 25: For the second straight season, preseason No. 1 Duke falls short of the Final Four. The Blue Devils lose to Kansas in overtime of the regional final.

After all that, it's Loyola-Chicago, Michigan, Villanova and Kansas at the Final Four in San Antonio.

March 31: Sister Jean's time on the River Walk comes to an end. Loyola-Chicago falls to Michigan 69-57 after leading by 10 points early in the second half. The Ramblers couldn't handle Michigan's Moe Wagner, who went for 24 points and 15 rebounds.

Later that night, Villanova shatters the Final Four record for most 3-pointers made in a game, making 18 from behind the arc in a 16-point blowout of Kansas. "That's as good a team as we've played against that I can remember," Kansas coach Bill Self says after the game.

Monday night's title game is set: Villanova vs. Michigan.

April 2: The best team in the country becomes the best program in college basketball. Villanova crushes Michigan, 79-62, in a game that has a double-digit margin for mostly the entire second half. The Wolverines come out and punch Villanova in the mouth early, but Final Four Most Outstanding Player Donte DiVincenzo comes off the bench to score 31 points, including 18 in the first half, to lead the Wildcats to a national championship.

Jay Wright and Villanova now have two national titles in the last three years -- highlighting one of the best five-year runs this sport has seen in the modern era.