With the first weekend of the March Madness behind us, those who want to punch Austin Rivers in the face (what did he ever do to you?) or otherwise obsessively hate Duke are still celebrating what has been called “the biggest upset in college basketball history,” “a stunner,” “a monumental choke,” and “a dreary Disneyfied inconsequence that features all the bigotries of century-old pulp fiction and none of the romance.” (Actually, that last one may have been about John Carter.)
But I want to focus on a different storyline. Because there’s a legal angle behind every sports story — and because I’m not ready to stop looking at college basketball lists — I’ve put together a power ranking of teams based on NCAA violations and run-ins with the law. I’m talking major NCAA infractions, not violations for supplying chocolate milk to student-athletes. (I recognize that some believe that every NCAA rule is the equivalent of a ban on providing chocolate milk to athletes, but rules are rules, and I’ll pick that fight another day.)
As you’ll see, 43 out of the 68 teams that were in the tournament this year have committed major violations. That’s not a particularly surprising number given that it’s a relatively inbred group, with coaches jumping from school to school, often leaving a trail of NCAA violations in their wake. I was actually able to connect all 68 of the head coaches to either Rick Pitino (the prince of conduct unbecoming) or Jerry Tarkanian (the godfather of NCAA violations) in seven steps or fewer (and all but three in six steps or fewer). For example, Scott Nagy, the head coach at South Dakota State, was a graduate assistant with Lou Henson at Illinois; Tony Stubblefield was an assistant to Henson at New Mexico State; Stubblefield was an assistant coach with Mick Cronin at Cincinnati; and Cronin was an assistant with Pitino at Louisville. OK, to make it easier, here’s a fancy chart that diagrams all the connections.
Here's how the basketball programs stack up. Instead of ranking them by number, I've grouped schools by pop culture good guys and bad guys, starting with the innocent, then moving down to the very, very, very guilty.