I’m happy to report that March is in full swing. At press time, several tournaments have ended but the major conferences will remain in play through Sunday afternoon. It’s worth noting that despite what happened to Murray State, most low and mid-majors rig their tournaments as heavily as possible to favor regular season champions. These conferences adopt ladder brackets to give top teams byes, and many host their tournaments on the home floors of the top seeds. This means many more teams in the 1-2 spots win conference tournaments, making what Furman did all the more impressive.
The number 1,000 doesn’t hold a sacred spot in college basketball fans’ hearts the way 755, 300, or 56 might for baseball fans – mostly because 1,000 is nearly incomprehensible. That he’s gotten to 999 victories speaks to Duke Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s longevity as much as it does his unparalleled talent. After amassing 73 wins and 0 NCAA Tournament appearances from 1975-80 at Army, Coach K took over a less-than-powerful Duke program. Before long, the Blue Devils looked strong, then dominant, then dynastic. In 35 seasons since, Duke has 4 National Titles, 8 Title game appearances, 11 Final Fours, and an astounding 30 Tournament appearances.
The New Year brings with it a bevy of resolutions, crippling cold, I guess, and most importantly, to your resident college basketball guru, the advent of conference play. Most major and mid-major conferences play only intra-league games from now until March. Plenty of time still exists for teams to play themselves into or out of the tournament, but at this milestone, let us break down the biggest winners and losers of the non-conference season.