Jay Bilas introduces The Bilastrator’s 2020-21 College Basketball Opus

The 2019-20 college basketball season ended unceremoniously, and in unprecedented fashion, as a global pandemic started. Never before, not even during times of war or other catastrophe, has the NCAA tournament been canceled or otherwise not played. On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, and there was uncertainty as to when they would come back on again for the next season … or whether they would come back on again for the next season.

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Let’s look back upon what was lost. While what was lost pales in comparison with the worldwide suffering of this pandemic, on a relative basis and keeping it in proper perspective, the abrupt ending to the 2020 postseason was heartbreaking for so many teams and players — especially for Dayton, San Diego State, Florida State, and Baylor. Look, every good team can feel like a title run was within its grasp as the NCAA tournament approached. But Baylor had its first No. 1 team and a legit chance for the Final Four. Dayton had a special team that could have won the whole thing. San Diego State and Florida State each had perhaps its best chance to reach a Final Four. It was March Sadness all around.

Yet the 2020-21 season begins with hope. Clearly, it will be a bumpy ride at the beginning and into the middle, but there are reasons for optimism as we get to March. First, the NCAA is hell-bent on playing the NCAA tournament this season. Two straight seasons of tournament cancellation could very well cripple the organization, and the game. This is a multibillion-dollar industry with a lot of money riding on it. The tournament has to be played. Second, while things are dire right now on the COVID-19 front, there seems to be legitimate optimism that things will improve dramatically by spring. Let’s all hope so.

Lastly, there is a significant increase in talent and experience across the college basketball landscape this season. The freshman class is ridiculously talented and capable. There are several experienced teams and players returning, and the race for the trophy and to cut down the nets in Indianapolis is about as wide-open as one can remember. There is no single, consensus favorite but a group of favorites. We will undoubtedly have Cinderellas emerge, and we will see breakout players who have worked and improved quietly at home during the pandemic quarantine, out of public view.

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Year after year, The Bilastrator’s Opus has provided the public with ridiculously accurate previews and prognostications about the upcoming season. Entering this season, The Bilastrator had additional time to ponder the best we will see this season, in addition to having additional time to binge-watch several shows, read several books, eat several things not normally consumed and ponder the places most missed during the pandemic quarantine. The Bilastrator will fill you in via The

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Jay Hartzell, University of Texas president: ‘The Eyes of Texas’ to be played after Longhorns games

The Texas Longhorns will continue to play “The Eyes of Texas” after football games throughout the season, even without the band present for Saturday’s matchup with Baylor, a statement from university president Jay Hartzell said Wednesday evening.

The Daily Texas reported Wednesday that an internal band survey asking whether or not they would play the song led to a lack of “necessary instrumentation.” However, Hartzell said in his statement that “while we would love the band to be with our fans at all our games, we never planned for them to perform live this Saturday.”

“We knew this summer that, as we make our campus a more welcoming place, we would face many hard conversations,” Hartzell’s statement continued. “I remain truly optimistic that we will find ways to join together around our song, which has been so positive for so many Longhorns over the past 120 years.”

“The Eyes of Texas” has come under scrutiny for its history in blackface minstrel shows. Furthermore, the alma mater’s first verse is inspired by a phrase frequently used by Confederate commander Robert E. Lee: “The eyes of the South are upon you.”

This summer, pressure mounted on Texas to do away with the song as athletes from multiple sports released a statement requesting changes at the school. Among those: renaming certain buildings on campus and replacing “The Eyes of Texas” with “a new song without racist undertones.”

The statement also requested the university lift a requirement for athletes to sing the song.

 

Last week, athletic director Chris Del Conte said he expected players to remain on the field during the postgame playing of the alma mater.

“I have had many conversations with our head coaches outlining my expectations that our teams show appreciation for our university, fans, and supporters by standing together as a unified group for ‘The Eyes,’ while we work through this issue,” Del Conte said, according to the Associated Press.

Coach Tom Herman, though, said this week there’s no requirement for players to remain on the field for the song. There was “confusion,” Herman said, following Texas’ Oct. 10 loss to Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl, leading to quarterback Sam Ehlinger standing as one of the lone figures left on the field when the song began.

Ehlinger has since called the scene a “misunderstanding,” saying he stayed to talk with coaches and players. Still, Ehlinger said he stood to recognize the song because of his connection to it growing up a Longhorns fan from Austin.

“That perspective is that I grew up a Longhorn. I grew up singing The Eyes of Texas’ win, lose or draw,” he said, according to the Austin American-Stateman. “I shared that experience with my family. I shared that experience with my [late] dad, and never once singing that song has anything negative ever crossed my mind. It was always about paying respect to the university and the incredible tradition

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