March Madness is a celebration of all that’s great about college basketball. But when the national champions cut down the net at the Alamodome in April, one can’t help but wonder if the win will eventually be tainted or wiped out by scandal.
“Been there,” says Jalen Rose, former NBA star and member of the University of Michigan’s famed Fab Five team of the early 1990s that saw its two Final Four appearances vacated in the wake of a scandal involving payments from a booster (Rose was cleared of wrongdoing).
College hoops faces a credibility issue at its highest level, and there’s not much confidence in the NCAA to ensure fair play. Last year, North Carolina won the school’s sixth national championship, then barely escaped sanctions for academic fraud that occurred over 18 years. Head coach Rick Pitino guided Louisville to the 2013 NCAA championship but was fired last year in the aftermath of an FBI investigation into a bribery scandal. Last month, NCAA sanctions forced Louisville to forfeit 123 wins including its Final Four appearance in 2012 and its 2013 national championship. Also last month, Yahoo Sports uncovered documents from an FBI probe that revealed payments and expenditures on college and high-school basketball prospects by ASM Sports agency. The NCAA, the universities, the TV networks and others reaping fortunes from an unpaid workforce no longer seems like a sustainable or ethical business model.
Rose believes that the way players are recruited and teams are built is at the heart of the matter. “I think that the toughest thing that collegiate basketball has to deal with is that there’s become two different ways to build your team,” Rose says. “It’s the McDonald’s All-American route, which it seems like lately they’ve only chosen four or five schools — Duke, Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas. And then it’s the mid-major or team in a large conference that has the third- and fourth-year players that can possibly make a long run in the tournament because they’re an older, more mature basketball team.”
The 2018 NCAA Tournament field is announced on TBS March 11, and play begins March 13-14 with the First Four from Dayton, Ohio, on truTV. All 67 tournament games will again be nationally televised across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV, and stream online and on mobile devices via NCAA March Madness Live.
NCAA Tournament Schedule At A Glance
Selection Sunday March 11 (TBS)
First Four March 13-14 (truTV)
First Round March 15-16 (CBS, TBS, TNT & truTV)
Second Round March 17-18 (CBS, TBS, TNT & truTV)
Regionals March 22-25 (CBS & TBS)
Final Four March 31 (TBS)
Championship Game April 2 (TBS)