It’s only fitting that an abbreviated college basketball season full of mediocrity (or parity, as some folks are keen on calling it) ends with uncertainty. Without an NCAA tournament, it’s hard to award a trophy.
Especially one that will enrage the majority of college basketball fans and carry a nice, shiny asterisk next to it.
Kansas ended the season No. 1 in the final AP poll. It wasn’t by a resounding margin — Gonzaga (1,547 points) and Dayton (1,505) finished behind Kansas’ total of 1,623 points — but the Jayhawks got nearly all first-place votes.
So does Kansas deserve an NCAA championship for its efforts during the regular season? Would the NCAA really give it to the Jayhawks? Even if it were awarded, would the school hold onto the title once the NCAA’s done ruling on the myriad allegations levied against Kansas?
It's a testament to how strange this season was that Kansas came out on top. Without one-name stars like Zion or Ja, there were no buzzy or dominant teams for casual fans to gravitate toward. It made for a season of upsets and average-looking teams winning conference titles. Some think that kinda thing is good for college basketball. Most just don’t bother watching.
After a tumultuous couple of years and a notice of allegations that included multiple Level I violations, Kansas essentially threw up the middle finger before the season even got under way, hosting "Late Night in the Phog" with dancers on stripper poles and Snoop Dogg shooting money into the crowd. The promo for it was even over the top given the circumstances. Bill Self and Kansas deflected blame for all that.
As the season played out, the school stuck to its guns and traded 149 pages worth of barbs with the NCAA over whether or not it was guilty of anything pertaining to the college basketball scandal. It was defiant, and also completely in line with its attitude since the notice of allegations was first delivered to the school.
But just days before Selection Sunday, the Jayhawks were playing like the best team in the country. They were 28-3, hadn’t lost since Jan. 11 and claimed the regular-season title in a competitive Big 12. They had a game-altering big man in Udoka Azubuike and a guard who could put up points in Devon Dotson. They no doubt would’ve made noise in the Big Dance, although Self doesn’t have the best track record the past decade when it comes to making deep runs in the tournament.
Is that enough justification to give them a title? Is there a point in awarding them anything when it may just get stripped in a month or two or whenever the NCAA gets around to levying punishment (assuming there is some)? If not Kansas, should another team get the title?
Without sports for the time being, we’ve got some time to mull those questions.
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