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College Basketball has been built on and brought along by the “Blue Bloods” over the last 30+ years. The Dukes of the worlds have provided us with not only great games and NCAA Championships, but also some of the world’s best basketball players. Let us roll back the clock and also talk about impact that Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Michigan St. and Kentucky have all had on the college hoops overall landscape.
When you think about March Madness and cutting down the nets, these are the teams we most often see on the big screen and think about. But I believe that 2021 is going to be the year that officially provides us with a change to these “Blue Blood” schools and the way they've dominated this sport for years to come.
COVID-19 has indeed turned our world upside down, and none of us reading this article have ever felt the impact of a worldwide pandemic in our lifetime like we've felt over the past year or so. Some things will simply never be the same. That's not an opinion either - it's just a cold fact - and I believe that these “Blue Blood” programs in our college basketball world will suffer a great deal because of this pandemic as well.
The last time the Blue Devils or Kentucky Wildcats made a March Madness tournament game was two full years ago. North Carolina has also not been the same over the last two full seasons, and the same goes for both Kansas and Michigan St. In this Tik-Tok world we live in, recruits are brought up wanting things in a hurry. That could be food, entertainment, text messages, you name it. Recruits always remember what they've seen last, and the last few years these schools have been well below what they are normally.
While the “Blue Blood" schools we named could been OK for the future, I'm not buying that COVID-19 did not take each of those big names schools right back to the rest of the pack. Some school’s will fare better than others, sure, but my gut feeling says that some of them will not recover - even some of the biggest.
Enter the Pac12. These teams have put their schools on the map over the last two years, and not to mention that a team like Gonzaga might just be the hot spot for recruits over the next five seasons and beyond. We as bettors remember what we last saw, and the same goes for the kids leaving high school and getting ready to pick the college they want to play for. Case in point - we will all remember this 2021 NCAA Tournament, but we will also never forget how it felt to not watch college basketball on the biggest stage in 2020. The kids who are going to college next year were just in 10th grade when they last saw a Duke, Kentucky, or Michigan St. battle for a title. And that is a long time ago in this Tik-Tok type of world.
The coaches at these “Blue Blood” schools are also very much in tact with their legacies. Coach K, Tom Izzo, Bill Self, John Calipari, and Roy Williams - although these coaches will be legends in the game of college basketball, you must wonder at some point if the age is catching up to them in this fast world we live in today. Williams recently announced his retirement from basketball, citing he is “no longer the right man," and that is a concern here, because he has frankly always been the right man for the job on a college basketball hardwood floor. My personal concerns also run deep with recruiting and funding for these schools. Some of these programs took massive financial hits during the last two years, and not making the tournament has also brought on more financial strain to a few of the aforementioned “Blue Bloods." At some point that money is going to be very much needed, and if it's not available, then the Gonzagas of the world will be far more attractive and easier to find. Smaller school, less programs, last thing you saw.
I believe that Williams has seen the writing on the wall for quite some time now. UNC has not been the same for a few years, to say the least, but the most recent two years specifically must be some of the worst years for in men's basketball program history. I certainly don't have all the answers here, but the combination of old “Blue Blood” coaches, money constraints and mediocrity has reared its ugly head.
Simply put, it's now time for the Gonzaga’s, the Baylor's and the Pac 12 Conference schools of the world to reach that “Blue Blood” level. It's now time for those mid-major schools to jump into the pack, the ones that have now showcased themselves as great basketball schools with a great community for recruits.
I don't want to say the “Blue Bloods” in college basketball are completely dead and gone, but they better make way for new teams that will be "elite" and host some of the worlds best players, for years to come.
That's just the Tik-Tok type of world we live in, in 2021.