Grand Canyon and Oral Roberts, yes; Duke and Kentucky, no.

All good things come to an end. Even though many people were hoping, irrationally, that it was a false ending.

Duke hasn’t missed March Madness since 1995 but they will this year. But as late as last night, the Blue Devils, who were 13-11 this year and only 9-9 in the ACC and who withdrew from the conference tournament because a player tested positive for COVID-19, were still a possibility to be selected for the big dance.

I don’t follow college basketball much but I read enough to know that at no time this season was Duke a tournament-caliber team. I suppose after 25 years it’s difficult to imagine the men’s NCAA Tournament without them (perennial tournament participant Kentucky also missed the cut, making the 2021 field the first one without both Duke and Kentucky since 1976). So there were plenty of people – not just Duke fans, but also the folks at CBS – who were hoping against hope that the tournament committee would leave at least one team that actually deserved to be included out and add the Blue Devils instead. But it was not to be.

It’ll be odd filling out a bracket without Duke or Kentucky in it. On the positive side for Big Ten fans, though, four of the eight #1 and #2 seeds are from that conference: Illinois and Michigan are 1 seeds and Iowa and Ohio State are 2 seeds.

A lot of things have changed in this pandemic year, and this is just another unexpected twist.