The NCAA basketball championship tournament is only six weeks away and if one thing has been established this season, it is that there is no dominant team in college basketball.
"I don't think there is any question that this is the best balance of power we've had in a long, long time," said Denny Crum, coach of highly ranked Louisville.
"I think there are possibly 60 to 80 teams that could beat any other team on the right night, and I think there are legitimately 20 teams that could win it all. It's lot like it was two years ago when Marquette won the national championship with seven losses.
"Whenever you have good balance like this, a lot of people say it is because there are no really good teams. I think that's wrong. There is such balance because there are so many good teams."
A look at this week's notional polls is the best indicator of the parity in college basketball.
Notre Dame lost its second game of the season last Saturday at Maryland, but still kept its No. 1 ranking.
Second-ranked Indiana State, the only unbeaten team in major college basketball, also has the weakest schedule of any of the ranked teams.
All of the other top teams -- Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Louisville and Ohio State -- have lost at least three games each.
Even the day of an individual star carrying a team all the way to the final four appears dead.
Larry Bird at Indiana State is the exception. He is leading the nation in scoring with a 30.2 average and is third in rebounding with an average of 15 a game, but the Sycamores have not played a team in the top 20 and won't until they get to the NCAA tournament.
Kelvin Ransey of Ohio State and DeWayne Scales of LSU are 39th and 42nd, respectively, in the nation in scoring, and they are the only two on any team in the top 20, other than Bird, to be ranked in the nation's top 50 scorers.
The trend the last few seasons indictates that there never will be another UCLA-type dominance of college basketball. The Bruins won seven straight NCAAbasketball titles from 1967 to 1973, and since then, no team has successfully defended its crown. There have been five different champions in the last five years, and last season's winner, Kentucky, is just an also-ran now.
There are basically five reasons why parity has returned to college basketball.
In 1972 freshmen became eligible to play varsity basketball and football at all NCAA institutions.
In 1973 the NCAA lowered its requirements for a grant-in-aid scholarship to a straight 2.0 high school grade-point average.
In 1978 the total number of players a school could have on basketball schoarships was lowered to 15.
There has been an increase in the number of talented high school players.
More schools, especially those which have been traditionally football schools, have made a commitment to go big time in basketball, as well.
Put all of these things together and the result is a distribution of power and a lot of good college basketball teams.
"The 15-scholarships limit has really been a key," said C. M. Newton, the coach at Alabama. "That distributed the talent a little better than before."
Before 1975 there was no limit on the number of basketball scholarships a school could gave, but guidelines were set that year and the number of scholarships per school has decreased each year until it reached 15.
"If a school gave out 20 scholarships a couple of years ago and can now give out only 15, that's five pretty good basketball players who are going somewhere else," Newton added.
"Now, instead of five good high school players all going to one school, they are going to five different schools, because they all want to play right now; that's what the freshmen eligible rule does." said Digger Phelps, coach of the top-ranked Fighting Irish.
"I think lowering the requirement for grants-in-aid helped too. That allowed a lot of good players to play big-time college basketball who never would have before."
Newton at Alabama said that when he went to school 11 seasons ago, it was all football, but since then 'Bama has made the commitment to have a big-time basketball program, also. "That's happening all over now," he said.
"Look at the Southwest Conference" he said. "That's supposed to be a football conference and they built a new arena at Texas and the other night drew 16,000 for Texas-Arkansas.
"More schools are getting involved in upgrading their programs, so more schools are getting into national recruiting."
So who will win it all come March in Salt Lake City?
The consensus is Notre Dame, and Newton has perhaps the best reason why.
"There are so many good teams around and so many strong conferences that the hard thing will be getting into the tournament," he says. "Once you are there, anybody can win it and right now, Notre Dame, as an independent, is the only team everyone knows will make it in."