As many of you know, I have been a fan of college basketball for as long as I can remember. The NCAA tournament is going on right now. Like everybody else I have talked to about this, my tournament brackets look like smoking rubble. I seem to say this every year but this year I mean it. I have never seen so many crazy upsets in the first round games in my life. Anybody that knows anything about basketball would not have-hell, did NOT-pick the Ohio Bobcats to beat Georgetown who back in January looked about as good as anybody in the country. But I confess that I really haven't kept up as I normally have. I kinda got a late start with all the stuff with Mom.
This year's Cinderella is shaping up to be the Gaels of St. Mary's of California. They beat a pretty good Richmond team and today they beat a damn good Villanova team albeit one that struggled late in the year. The Gaels are fun to watch. They are very disciplined on offense and way scrappy on defense. And I can't say that they won't beat either Baylor or Old Dominion in the next round.
But as much fun as college basketball is honesty compels me to yet again lament that DI men's basketball is easily the dirtiest of all intercollegiate sports. The cheating that goes on in basketball easily surpasses football. And one of the rules that is supposed to help the "student athletes" like most rules is gamed by the players. At least by the ones who think they have any chance at playing in the NBA.
A few years ago, the NBA and the NCAA agreed that no player can play in the NBA until after he has played at least one year of college ball. The idea was that perhaps once a player got to campus he might take a shine to academic pursuits and stick around. The reality of the situation is that the NBA players union was scared to death that there might be other LeBrons out there that would take away a roster spot for one its members. And the colleges were assured of having these guys around playing for free for at least one year.
The unfortunate result that nobody apparently thought of on the front end is that the kind of players who at least think they have Kobe like skills figure out pretty quick that they only have to go to class for a semester because they are gone after the NCAA Tournament in April. Poof! John Calipari specialized in recruiting these "one and done" types at Memphis and has said that as far as he was concerned he was going to continue the practice at Kentucky. Which if it were anywhere but basketball crazy Kentucky the President might at least tell Cal to not try to make it look so obvious that when it comes down to it, the Wildcats just don't much care about academics. They care about winning whether they use mercenaries or real "student-athletes."
But enough about all of that. There isn't a system around that can't be gamed. Ask the IRS. Ask the guys who wrote the new Bankruptcy Code. Ask me.
But wait. Rumor has it that the 3 freshmen that start for Kentucky are thinking about coming back. The sensational John Wall has the highest GPA of anybody on the team. Which either means something or nothing.
What it means is that if the do come back, Kentucky wins the NCAA next year, barring injuries or arrests. And John Calipari will have to figure out which "student-athletes" that remain on the roster will have to go to make room for next year's "one and done" mercenaries that he is bringing to the Grove of the Academy.