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Forde Minutes Big Dance Edition: Everything to know about this college basketball season before filling out your bracket

Forde Minutes Big Dance Edition: Everything to know about this college basketball season before filling out your bracket

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college basketball — super-sized to 68 for the NCAA tournament:

The 2018 NCAA TOURNAMENT: TRUST NO ONE

What a time to be a herd animal — the Bison of Bucknell and Bisons of Lipscomb are in the Big Dance, as are the Longhorns of Texas, the Bulls of Buffalo and that Thundering bunch from Marshall. It’s a great day to be an old-school warrior — the Spartans of Michigan State and UNC Greensboro, and the Aztecs of San Diego State all are in the bracket as well. There is both a Wolfpack (North Carolina State) and a Wolf Pack (Nevada). There are Ramblers (Loyola Chicago) and Racers (Murray State) and Raiders (Wright State, Texas Tech). There are Cavaliers (Virginia) and Mountaineers (West Virginia) and Musketeers (Xavier). The gang’s all here.

But amid the celebration of Selection Sunday, keep your guard up.

Play Tourney Pick’em | Fill out your bracket | Print it | Play against Draymond Green

It’s been a season of suspicion — off the court at first, and then on the court once the games began. Off it: Who, in a time of national scandal, is playing it clean? On it: Who, in a time of widespread parity, can you confidently write on the last line of your bracket as your national championship pick?

These are the twin paths of our uncertain journey into the belly of March Madness.

Let’s start with the macro view, and the overall credibility of the sport. Given the backdrop of the ongoing federal investigation into corruption in college basketball, there are a few teams that, if they win it all, could make the Alamodome trophy presentation pretty awkward:

Arizona (1). Assistant coach Emanuel “Book” Richardson was arrested last fall and fired in January as part of the federal probe. Richardson and another assistant, Joe Pasternack, were linked with arrested former ASM Sports agency associate Christian Dawkins via Dawkins’ emails. Head coach Sean Miller sat out one game after an ESPN report about him allegedly discussing payments to a player on a wiretap; then Miller returned, rebuked the story and made a veiled threat to sue ESPN. Oh, and star wing player Allonzo Trier missed two games after a second positive steroid test, then had his eligibility restored on appeal. If ever there were to be a champion for these troubled times, the Pac-12 champion Wildcats are it.

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