With talk of Grammys and Oscars in the air, the diligent staff here at the College Basketball Notebook, well, basically yours truly, has gotten together to present some of our own postseason awards:
* Male Player of the Year: Glenn Robinson of Purdue. The "Big Dog" barked loudest on the college basketball block this season. Other nominees: Connecticut's Donyell Marshall, Jason Kidd of California and Louisville's Clifford Rozier.
* Female Player of the Year: Lisa Leslie of Southern California. She entered the season with a world of expectations, and fulfilled all of them. Other nominees: Shelley Sheetz of Colorado, UCLA's Natalie Williams and Rebecca Lobo of Connecticut.
* Men's Coach of the Year: Lon Kruger of Florida. OK, a show of hands of everyone who thought the Gators not only would be ranked this late in the year, but also would beat out Kentucky in the SEC East. Yep, we thought so. Other nominees: Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Gene Keady of Purdue and Skip Prosser of Loyola.
* Women's Coach of the Year: Texas Tech's Marsha Sharp. Sure, it was easy to win the national title with the best player on the planet, Sheryl Swoopes. But getting the Red Raiders back into the top five with Swoopes and three other senior starters gone is an impressive feat. Other nominees: Virginia's Debbie Ryan and Rene Portland of Penn State.
* What Were They Thinking Award: The women's coaches in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Let's get this straight: Loyola's Patty Stoffey is the second-leading scorer in all of women's basketball, third in the league in rebounding and second in field-goal percentage, and she's not the MAAC Player of the Year? Stoffey, who lost out to Siena senior Liz Lops, got the last laugh, however, because the Greyhounds made the NCAA tournament.
* Boor of the Year: Bob Knight, in a walk, as usual. In one season, he has been ejected three times, including during an exhibition; kicked his son, Pat; kicked a 10-year-old kid out of an Indiana practice; and, just the other night, head-butted a player sitting on the bench. Some day, someone will rename and retire this award for Knight. Or better yet, they'll just get rid of him.
Wednesday's decision by the Big East to admit Rutgers and West Virginia as full-fledged basketball members could have ramifications throughout college basketball.
For instance, the Atlantic 10, of which Rutgers and West Virginia were members, has already extended an invitation to Xavier (Ohio) and also is expected to look at and LaSalle, or even Loyola, as possible replacements.
The league, which just lost commissioner Ron Bertovich and could have lost Temple as well, seems to have dodged a bullet.
"From an Atlantic 10 standpoint, everybody wins," St. Bonaventure athletic director Tom O'Connor told USA Today. "We keep our two ranked programs in UMass and Temple."
Meanwhile, Big East members, who will not adopt the divisional play that made the Southeastern Conference expansion more palatable, may find scheduling a tremendous headache. Imagine trying to work 11 league opponents into a 27-game format.
Waiting is the hardest part
It will be an anxious weekend for the Maryland women's basketball team, as the Terps wonder if their 15-13 record is good enough to extend their string of consecutive NCAA tournament bids to seven.
Getting there could be a stretch. The Terps finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, usually one of the nation's top leagues, andplayed 10 games against teams that were ranked at one time this season in the Associated Press poll and seven against teams that were in the top six.
But Maryland beat only one ranked team this year, Rutgers, and took just two games against teams (Clemson and Texas) that likely will be in the 64-team field.
Linda Bruno, the chair of the women's Division I women's basketball committee, said the nine-member panel probably will extend bids to teams with records that are close to .500, if those schools have played difficult schedules.
"You might see some teams that are close to the .500 mark get in, but that's the same as the men's tournament," said Bruno, associate commissioner of the Big East.
But Bruno said those teams would need some good wins to get in, and Maryland doesn't have many of those. Only the top four teams in each region will be seeded this year, the first with 64 teams. All other teams and matchups will be determined by geography and competitive balance, Bruno said.
Upset pick of the week
The end of the regular season finds the UP right back at .500 (4-4), where the season started, but on a three-game losing streak.
To close the season on an up note, here come picks for the national championship, with the proviso that they were selected before the draw is announced.
In the men's division, absent a peek at the draw, picking the Final Four is foolish, but predicting the national titlist isn't.
The NCAA tournament is rich with the recent history of a single player (see Danny Manning or Glen Rice) carrying a team for six games to a championship.
Glenn Robinson is more than capable of doing that. Look for Purdue to cut down the Charlotte Coliseum nets on April 4.
On the women's side, Stanford could have up to four games on its home court, where it has won 103 of its past 106 games, before the Cardinal even gets to the Final Four.
Stanford will be joined in Richmond by Connecticut, Texas Tech and the eventual champion, Tennessee.