Evans Seven: Seven things to track as the 2019-20 season wraps up
The upcoming NCAA tournament is not the only thing to track on the college basketball calendar in the next two months, although certainly it is the most fun. Here are seven things to keep an eye on as March turns into April and the 2020 season wraps up.
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2022 Rankings: Top 75
1. MARCH MADNESS
The field of 68 will be revealed on March 15. Does a .500 team from the Big Ten make the field as an at-large? Will ETSU, barring its winning of the SoCon Tournament, make it in? We will find out in just over a week’s time.
From there, the craziness of March will take hold as the First Four will battle it out two days later in Dayton, with the first round of the NCAA Tournament beginning on March 19.
From there, the NCAA Regionals take place in phenomenal settings as in the Staples Center and Madison Square Garden, before having all eyes on Atlanta thanks to the Final Four.
Is this the year that we see another mid-major make a run to the ATL? Does a current no-name freshman break out? Can Udoka Azubuike remain healthy and keep Kansas afloat? Will Immanuel Quickley keep on his shot making dominance for Kentucky?
2. COACHING CAROUSEL
While there is always a surprise or two, this year’s coaching carousel looks to be a bit milder compared with prior years. Texas could start the coaching carousel spinning, but with the Longhorns winning five straight, an NCAA Tournament bid within grasp and Shaka Smart expecting to return all of his top talent for next year, the primary openings might be on the blander side.
Boston College and Wake Forest may open, with Minnesota sitting as the wild card. Already, jobs at SEMO and Western Illinois have opened, the sort of vacancies that are expected more plentiful in the coming weeks compared to the national entities. One spot to monitor is Grand Canyon; the WAC program has oodles of money to offer and the name of Rick Pitino has been thrown around, just as it has at Iona.
3. THE TRANSFER PORTAL
In Thursday’s Three-Point Play, we discussed the potential of the first-time transfer rule that could go into effect for the upcoming season.
Looking ahead, the class of 2021 is not a strong one and programs may hit the transfer wire more often in the coming weeks. Furthermore, no longer will Eric Musselman and Fred Hoiberg be among the minority when it comes to roster building via the transfer portal.
The transfer portal is about to get crowded very soon and chaos will likely ensue with this year’s cycle being the closest we have ever seen to actual college free agency if immediate eligibility is within the cards.
4. ALL-STAR EVENTS
Things kick off in Chicago for the Jordan Brand Classic on March 27, but most will be focused a week later on Houston for the McDonald’s All-American Game. Next month’s contest will bring Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley together as the trio are in a dead heat for the No.1 overall ranking. That argument, at least with the Rivals150 in mind, will be put to bed with who impresses the greatest in H-Town.
From there, the Nike Hoop Summit will return to Portland on April 10 as the USA Team will battle it out the World Team, before finishing with the Allen Iverson Classic, an event that has grown stronger throughout the years, on April 24.
5. LIVE PERIODS
Last year was the first recruiting cycle that the newly reformed Rice Commission saw its plan be put into action. No longer were there three five-day recruiting cycles in July and in April, though the timing of Easter played a part, just one live period was established.
This year it is back to the norm, that is at least for next month. The shoe companies have got their way, at least in the spring, with two open periods beginning on April 17-19, as adidas, Nike and Under Armour will host their sponsored teams in Louisville, Indianapolis and Dallas, before completing the window the following weekend in Kansas City, Atlanta and Omaha.
Other non-sponsored companies as in Hoop Group, HoopSeen, On the Radar Hoops and NY2LA will also host a plethora of grassroots programs throughout the last two weekends of the month, too, in places such as Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Manheim, Pa.
6. LATE SIGNING PERIOD
The early signing period is the primary point in time that grabs the greatest attention when it comes to seeing who will actually connect their verbal commitment with a national letter of intent signing. This year was a bit out of the norm thanks to a number of tail-end Rivals150 prospects holding off from committing and a few others, as in Greg Brown, Jalen Green, Josh Christopher and Cliff Omoruyi, all deciding to keep their recruitments open.
A few more weeks are still on the table for the former three with Omoruyi likely near his decision, one that is expected to be made prior to the late signing period begins on April 15, and runs all of the way through to May 20. The question for an elite talent like a Brown or a Green, is whether or not they will actually sign an NLI, or opt for financial aid papers. Either way, in just over a month, more prospects will be officially celebrated nationwide and a firmer 2021 national title picture will begin to form.
7. THE HIDDEN DOMINO
It happens every year. Something out of left field hits the college basketball world and chaos ensues. This offseason, is it the hiring of a Bill Self or Jay Wright-type that opens up one of the sport’s best jobs which makes the coaching carousel spin repeatedly? Does a sitting head coach surprisingly retire or be relinquished of his duties? Will the one-and-done rule, thus halting the reclassification of elite prospects and forcing practically every Division-I coach to change his recruiting outlook? Do further allegations come down thanks to the FBI investigation into the sport from just a few years back?
The only certainty is uncertainty and expect the offseason to be just as entertaining as the games we are about to be enthralled by in the coming weeks.