This started out as an unordinary college basketball season.
Coach K, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, is on a farewell tour as he prepares to retire after the season.
He has won five national championships and been to the Final Four a dozen times. He is the men’s game all-time winningest coach, with 1,183 victories and counting.
One of Coach K’s biggest admirers is Dick Vitale, a former basketball coach who started his career as a college basketball analyst with the launching of ESPN in 1980. Vitale is as much an entertainer as he is an announcer.
In August, Vitale announced that he had recovered from melanoma. In October, he announced that he was battling a second kind of cancer, lymphoma. He said then that he'd balance his work schedule with his chemotherapy schedule.
Dickie V., as he is known to the masses, returned to the court on Nov. 24 for the Gonzaga-UCLA game.
At the time, Gonzaga was ranked No. 1. After two losses, the Bulldogs have dropped to No. 5. Duke is No. 12.
A few weeks after that game, Vitale was diagnosed with pre-cancerous dysplasia on the vocal cords. The 82-year-old posted on Twitter on Dec. 29 that he was "shutdown from doing games for at least 8 weeks."
The Southeastern Conference has not been ordinary either.
Auburn is currently atop the standings at 15-1 and 4-0 in SEC play. The Tigers are followed by Texas A&M (14-2 and 3-0), LSU (15-1 and 3-1), and Kentucky (13-3 and 3-1).
But the NCAA Evaluation Tool rankings are very different. In the NET rankings, the official NCAA rankings that are part of the formula for choosing NCAA Tournament teams, LSU is ranked the highest at No. 3. Auburn is No. 6, Tennessee is No. 10, Kentucky is No. 13, and Alabama is No. 23.
Only the Top 40 teams at the end of the regular season are considered locks for the NCAA Tournament. Nine other teams in the SEC, including Texas A&M at No. 49, are outside the Top 40.
In other words, the SEC may have some work to do to get six teams into the tourney during this crazy season.