On a macro level, what was supposed to be the best month of the year for college basketball fans is now just another month of the offseason. We’re left to binge-watch Netflix shows and watch games of past years (I’ve watched parts/most of the 2016 3-OT game vs Oklahoma and the 2007 Big 12 title game against Texas multiple times over the past week and a half). Side note: good on CBS playing old title games. Watching the 2008 game, with Bill Self livetweeting, was a bright spot when we haven’t had many.
For fans of individual teams, the loss of the season cuts deeper with thoughts of what could have been. The cuts are different, but the results are the same.
Dayton fans had arguably their best team ever, a legitimate one-seed title contender with possibly the national player of the year. When will they get a chance like this again?
Hofstra made its first tournament since 2001, but won’t even get 40 minutes to show for it. Rutgers fans have waited a decade longer, and that streak was likely to end this year.
Then there’s Kansas; the unquestioned No.-1 team in the country and favorites to cut down the nets. There are no guarantees in the NCAA Tournament, but this felt like a team that had the best chance in recent history to do something special. And now we’ll never know.
An argument about which fan base has it worse is irrelevant. It’s painful for each in different ways.
For Kansas, the pain of uncertainty is not just about what could have been over the next three weeks. It’s that the uncertainty doesn’t look to be going away in April.
The NCAA’s ruling stemming from the FBI probe and Adidas trials will be set in the coming months. The possibilities of punishments range from vacating the 2018 Final Four and a scholarship reduction to a coaching suspension for Bill Self (I’ve seen anywhere from nine games to an entire year) and a postseason ban.
The last option on that list is of greatest concern. An NCAA Tournament played without Kansas hasn’t happened since 1989, the year after KU won the national title. It’s unfamiliar territory, and one that likely puts fear into fans because of what could come with it. Will Self still be coaching this team? He says he’s not leaving, but no one knows for sure. What would the players do, including incoming players like Bryce Thompson?
Speculating on whether any of this will happen is not the point. The point is we don’t know. Before heading into that unknown, there was an opportunity to end the already wildly accomplished 2019-2020 season on a high note heading into whatever is next.
But now the uncertainty of this season’s outcome and what is looming are compounded, and the only option we have is to wait anxiously and see.