Selection Sunday is just around the corner with the proceedings taking place March 11.
By the end of the evening, the field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament will be officially set. But, no matter where you look or listen for information about men’s college hoops these days, FBI probes amidst scandal has seemed to trump basketball. It’s sickening. After having to filter out all of the talk correlated to the University of Louisville and Head Coach Rick Pitino, pandora’s box just opened with the news surrounding the Arizona Wildcats and head man, Sean Miller.
FBI wiretaps have unlocked phone conversations between Coach Miller and agent, Christian Dawkins. We now know that Miller spoke to Dawkins about payment of $100,000 in order to make sure that superstar freshman Deandre Ayton signed the dotted line to play for Zona. Miller will not coach his team on Saturday night against Oregon on the road in Eugene, but Mr. Ayton will suit up for the Cats. It was announced late Saturday evening that he was relieved of his duties at the university. This scandal should mark the end of Miller’s basketball coaching career. With all of this being said, let me redirect your attention to two scandal-free programs on a mission to win a national championship.
How about the Villanova Wildcats and the Kansas Jayhawks? These are two extraordinary men’s orange roundball programs that have stayed in the limelight due to their remarkable play and coaching over the years. And this year isn’t different. Head coaches Jay “Armani” Wright of Villanova and Bill Self of Kansas have run exemplary squads for many years.
Wright has been the right man for the job in Philadelphia, leading Nova dating back to 2001. In addition to winning the 2016 National Championship on a game-winning triple as the horn sounded by Kris Jenkins to beat North Carolina, Jay happens to be a multiple winner of GQ’s Fashionable Four. This award is given to the best-dressed coach in college hoops, and Coach Wright simply never disappoints when it comes to style. Perfect suit ensemble, perfect fit, every single time!
Jay continues to run a clean program in Philly, and his team has been a thorn in the side of many opponents in recent years. And although Villanova was hit with a 89-83 loss to Creighton in overtime on Saturday, these No. 3 Wildcats (25-4) are still a formidable threat to win their second national title in three seasons come March Madness time. Their chances of winning a fifth-straight Big East championship are in jeopardy with No. 4 Xavier looking to take the crown, but Nova can definitely win six-straight games in the NCAA Tournament. This team has moxie, and the leadership of 6-foot-3 and 190-pound junior guard, Jalen Brunson. A player of the year candidate with wicked handles, Mr. Brunson puts up numbers with 19.2 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, and 4.9 assists per game.
Enter Coach Self and Kansas from Lawrence. And please, Beware of the Phog inside Jayhawk-friendly Allen Fieldhouse. Representing the program since 2003, Bill has led the Jayhawks to two Final Four appearances (2008, 2012). In 2008, Kansas reigned supreme with a National Title. Led by Mario Chalmers on the floor, the Jayhawks took down an extremely talented Memphis squad to win it all in one heck of an overtime thriller.
Additionally, Self is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame — inducted in September 2017. And after his team took down Texas Tech on the road in Lubbock on Saturday afternoon, No. 8 Kansas (23-6) have now clinched at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title an NCAA record 14-straight times (2005-2018). In this contest, Devonte’ Graham led the way with 26 points and a clutch bucket with 1:30 remaining that clinched a hard-fought 74-72 victory. Mr. Graham, the senior guard standing 6-foot-2 and weighing-in at 185-pounds, has been the Jayhawks’ catalyst the entire season — 17.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, and 7.2 apg will get the job done.
Amidst NCAA scandal, we can all rest easy knowing that Villanova and Kansas haven’t gone anywhere. Their only plans now — a trip to the Final Four in the River City. It won’t be long now before San Antonio is abuzz with college hoops mania.