The biannual regular season showdown between Duke and North Carolina is usually an appointment TV for college basketball fans by men.Not so much this year as bitter rivals stopped for the first time since 1960 in the ranking the Feb. 6 Matchup had the lowest TV rating and audience for the series in at least 14 years2

Unexpected power outages for college basketball kings aren’t exclusive to Tobacco Road or this season, but 2020-21 will be a bizarre blue blood banner year

“We’re not used to losing, but we are,” said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski – and that was before his team lost freshman Jalen Johnson, who announced on Monday that he would be up for the rest would sign off the season Focus on the NBA draft

Krzyzewski inadvertently described the experience of many of the top 25 staples in the sport such as Kentucky and Notre Dame3 rank at the bottom of their respective conference rankings, with the former recording the lowest percentage of season wins since 1926-274 Duke and Michigan State5 likely have to win conference championships to receive NCAA tournament bids It’s been nearly 40 years since they both failed to qualify Indiana, one of five schools that have won at least five national championships is in danger of missing its fourth straight tournament and has continued its seemingly annual tradition of firing Even Kansas, a juggernaut with three No. 1 seeds in the last four tournaments, is considering a potential 5-seed that would be the lowest since 2000

Of the top 20 teams rated in the AP preseason poll, four are projected by ESPN’s bracketology to miss the NCAA tournament. In last week’s AP poll, exactly none of the 10 teams were with the Most AP polls ever represented If the season ended today, six of the top 10 teams with the most wins of all time at the end of last season would be watching the action in Indianapolis from home

Sports have repeatedly proven that even the greats eventually fall, but this has been a uniquely weird season for college basketball institutions

To measure how unusual it was, FiveThirtyEight examined 40 years of Simple Rating System (SRS) scores in the February 16 games for each of the 10 most successful teams in men’s division I college basketball that entered the 2020-21 Season Enter: Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Temple, Syracuse, UCLA, Notre Dame, St Johns and Indiana The average score this season for these 10 schools is the third lowest of all seasons since 1981/82, and is only 12 points better than the average team

The decline is even more pronounced when you look at just the top four schools, all of which are the usual household names in college basketball: Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, and Duke each one in both figurative and chromatic blue blood But everyone also fell out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1961, and they have together won 539 percent of their games that season, the lowest collective percentage since the 1915-16 season.The mean of the SRS ratings for these four teams is these four teams only 132 points better than the average Division I team this season.This is the lowest average score for the four programs since 1982-83

A variety of variables could be responsible for the blue blood relatives struggles, most notably that the pandemic created an unprecedented number of planning barriers The start of college basketball season was delayed by more than two due to COVID-19 Weeks, which also shortened the time the teams were able to train together. That of course makes a difference for blue-chip-laden squads populated by players who simultaneously adapt to the level of competition and the campus

“You can’t play basketball if you don’t train – I mean, that’s a fundamental thing everyone knows,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim after his team’s 1-point season-opening win over Bryant, a member of the Northeast Conference

Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina made the top three recruiting classes of 2020 according to Rivals, com Each team ranked worse than 320 on KenPom’s experience metric Kansas isn’t that skilled either, with the average player on Bill Self’s roster having 48 years of experience this season

Continuity alone doesn’t guarantee a team’s success, however: just look at the state of Michigan.The Spartans lost longtime starter Cassius Winston and leading rebounder Xavier Tillman from last year’s team, but they also dropped six players who started at least five games in the past season The state of Michigan ranks 85th in minute continuity Place and is thus higher than that of the Final Four team of 2019, but is well on the way to end the season with the worst result in the KenPom team standings

College basketball fans love to wreak havoc on their calendars every March, but this year is going to be especially confusing as fans should expect to see a multitude of different teams and some obvious absences it will be an arc to match Being in an irregular season with no standard schedule Teams like Gonzaga and Baylor extended last season’s success, but many more failed unexpectedly.The 2020-21 season will be remembered as a season of greater uncertainty than ever So it stands to reason that college basketball fans should let themselves into the unexpected until they hear something else

“Should Duke or North Carolina feel more desperate?” asked a specific promotional material in the run-up to the game

Though the Irish struggled, they achieved something historic by being the third team to beat Duke and Kentucky on the road in the same season in the past 25 seasons

A long-standing power under coach Tom Izzo, who is in the middle of what is arguably the worst season since the mid-1990s

Josh Planos is an Omaha-based writer who contributed to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post @ JPlanos

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World News – USA – College basketball blue blood cells for men are rarely this bad (We look at you Duke and Kentucky)