The moments that made college hoops crazy and the ones that might lie ahead
College basketball's big start to the season
We've already enjoyed an eventful season in college basketball.
We've had scandals, the emergence of superstars and the up-and-down performances of powerhouses.
And it's not even mid-January.
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Here is a snippet of the craziness we've already witnessed and the chaos we'll see in the coming months:
The FBI threatens to shut the sport down
In late September, Joon Kim, then acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, stood at a dais and announced breathtaking charges that affected some of America's top programs. The FBI had uncovered a bribery scheme that led to the arrests of four Division I assistants from USC, Arizona, Oklahoma State and Auburn and the eventual dismissal of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino after his alleged role in a pay-for-play scheme. Multiple squads were named in the documents attached to the FBI investigation.
And key players, such as USC's De'Anthony Melton, have not played this season while their respective schools sort through their eligibility concerns. Former five-star Arizona commit Jahvon Quinerly recently decommitted and hired a lawyer because of reports tying him to the investigation.
But that, per Kim, was just the beginning.
"We have your playbook," Kim said about the sport then. "The investigation is ongoing."
No additional arrests have been made since that initial news conference, but this is the imposing cloud that has lingered above the game all season.
Thad Matta's stunning resignation creates a significant domino effect
In early June, then Ohio State coach Thad Matta stood next to athletic director Gene Smith and announced his resignation. Matta had led his team to a string of runs in the NCAA tournament, but health problems had contributed to the decline of the program's recruiting pool in recent years.
The rare June coaching change put the Buckeyes in a difficult spot. But credit Smith for stealing Chris Holtmann months after his Sweet 16 run with Butler. Then, LaVall Jordan, a former Butler standout, left UW-Milwaukee to replace Holtmann.
Both have exceeded expectations thus far. Jordan has led Butler -- struggling through a three-game losing streak right now -- to wins over Villanova and Ohio State. Under Holtmann, the Buckeyes continue to improve. They started 4-0 in Big Ten play and beat former No. 1 Michigan State by double digits Sunday.
Trae Young announces his arrival at the PK80
During the PK80 tournament in Portland, Oregon, over Thanksgiving weekend -- a tournament designed to celebrate Nike founder Phil Knight's 80th birthday -- Oklahoma's Trae Young faced Oregon at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in the fifth-place game of the Victory bracket.
It was a 10 a.m. game, and Oregon fans had just enjoyed the Civil War against Oregon State the previous night, so the stands weren't packed.
But Young recorded 43 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in a 90-80 win over the Ducks. Anyone who witnessed his performance realized the five-star product of Norman, Oklahoma, could become a superstar. After that performance, reporters and NBA scouts gathered in the media room and gushed about the freshman who would evolve into the face of the sport in 2017-18.
Deandre Ayton's homecoming spoiled at the Battle 4 Atlantis
By all accounts, freshman Deandre Ayton could lead Arizona to coach Sean Miller's first Final Four appearance. He's a 7-foot-1 athlete unlike any player we've seen at this level.
He entered the week with 11 double-doubles, just one shy of tying a record for Arizona freshmen. But the program's trip to the Bahamas, his birthplace, for the Battle 4 Atlantis in November did not go well.
The Wildcats lost three consecutive games in the tournament and fell from the polls, after starting the season ranked No. 2.
Many pounced on Arizona, reeling from the arrest of former assistant Book Richardson in the FBI investigation, and anticipated a collapse. But the Wildcats bounced back and entered conference play as a strong contender in the Pac-12.
Arizona State beats Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, seizes a top-five ranking
Arizona's fall was as unexpected as Arizona State's rise to the top five after the Sun Devils' win at Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse.
Before ASU's win at Kansas on Dec. 10, Jayhawks coach Bill Self had suffered just 10 losses at the Phog during his tenure. But Bobby Hurley's Sun Devils finished 14-for-28 from the 3-point line in a double-digit win that signaled the rebirth of ASU basketball and the start of a potentially special season for the program. It also magnified concerns about Kansas and its ability to maintain its streak of Big 12 titles (13 in a row).
Markus Howard drops 52
On Jan. 3, a buzz hit social media as Marquette star Markus Howard approached history.
The sophomore guard ended the night with a Division I season-high 52 points, tying a Big East record, after making 11 3-pointers in his team's overtime win at Providence.
Howard, per ESPN Stats & Information, became just the fifth major-conference player to register 50 or more points in a game over the past 20 seasons.
The state of Texas emerges as a college basketball power
We're accustomed to the Lone Star State's perennial dominance in football, but its basketball programs are shifting the national landscape right now.
In all, five major-conference squads from Texas (Baylor, Texas, TCU, Texas A&M and Texas Tech) are listed in Joe Lunardi's latest Bracketology, along with Houston of the American Athletic Conference. He also has SMU on the "first four out" list.
With the Final Four in San Antonio this season, the home state has its best chance in years to send a representative to the final stage.
Purdue-Michigan State on Feb. 10 could determine Big Ten title
This season, the Big Ten tournament will begin in late February. The ongoing chaos of the league suggests that several candidates could leave Madison Square Garden with the conference's automatic berth.
On Feb. 10, however, Purdue and Michigan State will face off in East Lansing, Michigan, for what could be the most important game of the regular season. These top teams in the Big Ten will play only once this season before the conference tournament. So the winner of this game could enter the final stretch with a favorable path to the Big Ten's regular-season title.
Sidelined five-star freshmen return?
At some point -- perhaps soon -- Kentucky's Jarred Vanderbilt and Kansas' Billy Preston could return to help their squads in the final months of the regular season.
Vanderbilt (No. 19 in the 2017 class, per ESPN.com) has missed the entire season thus far with a foot injury. The 6-9 forward recently returned to practice, however, and is expected to make his debut soon.
Preston's situation is more complicated. He was involved in a car accident on campus in November, and the vehicle he was driving triggered a compliance investigation. His mother has said that he's innocent and that the family has nothing to hide, but Preston, an elite power forward and NBA prospect, has not yet played this season.
Kansas is desperate for frontcourt depth, which is why so many fans are anxious for Preston's arrival. The two players could make a serious impact if and when they return.
A critical February slate at Allen Fieldhouse could decide history
Kansas now has two losses at Allen Fieldhouse this season (Texas Tech, Arizona State). The Jayhawks had just 10 total under Self before this 2017-18 campaign.
A crucial February could help the Jayhawks preserve their historic Big 12 title streak and move past UCLA for sole possession of the Division I record or could end it. In February, TCU, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas will all face Kansas in Lawrence. Those matchups could shift the conference race.
Texas A&M plays at full strength?
Texas A&M's season is a roller coaster. Five players have missed a total of 15 games this season because of suspensions for violating team rules. Coach Billy Kennedy recently said his team is dealing with "immaturity." DJ Hogg, the No. 2 scorer, recently returned from suspension. Admon Gilder returned this week after missing five games with a knee injury. Robert Williams missed Saturday's loss to LSU because of the flu.
The Aggies started the year with a win over West Virginia, a potential Big 12 champion and No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Top-50-ish wins over Oklahoma State, Penn State and USC followed. But injuries and off-court drama have contributed to their current four-game losing streak and 0-4 start in the SEC.
This question is still valid, though: If the Aggies regain their stride, get completely healthy and fix their internal drama, will they mature into a postseason threat? They have the pieces. Right now, however, they're the most disappointing team in the country.
Bonzie Colson joins Notre Dame in time for the NCAA tournament?
Earlier this month, Notre Dame announced devastating news: All-American Bonzie Colson had suffered a left foot injury and would miss the next eight weeks.
Colson (21.4 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.4 BPG) is one of America's best players. But he could return in time for the ACC tournament.
The Fighting Irish are in a difficult spot without him, but they're 2-1 since his injury. Their next five games (North Carolina, Louisville, at Clemson, Virginia Tech, at Duke) could elevate the program or damage its postseason aspirations.
If they can hold on for the next two months without a superstar, however, they could enter the NCAA tournament as a dangerous, albeit underrated, seed with a healthy Colson ready to end his college career on the proper note.