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CliffsNotes for the Ed O’Bannon v. NCAA trial, which kicks off today

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At 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning at a courthouse in Oakland, Ca., Ed O’Bannon v. NCAA kicked off after five long years of litigation.

The case hasn’t gotten much coverage on television, as the legality of amateurism in college sports isn’t exactly fodder for First Take, but rest assured for the fans of collegiate athletics, this kicks off the single biggest challenge to the business model of the NCAA to date.

Without further ado, here’s a primer with all you need to know about the case:

The Basics: What started in July of 2009 as a lawsuit filed by former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon has morphed into an attack on “The Collegiate Model”. As the story goes, O’Bannon saw a family member of his playing a video game with his likeness in it. The NCAA and UCLA had sold the rights to his likeness to EA Sports, the maker of the video game, but O’Bannon had not been compensated.

EA has since settled their lawsuits, however, which has given O’Bannon v. NCAA a completely different tone.

On trial will be the legality of amateurism in the NCAA. You can read through extensive breakdowns of the arguments for either side here, here and here, but the gist of it all is that the plaintiffs are claiming that the NCAA is illegally restricting collegiate athletes from being capable of capitalizing on their name, their brand, their likeness and their image.

Who Are The Plaintiffs?: O’Bannon is the face of the lawsuit, but he is only one of many former college football and basketball players that have joined as plaintiffs, including Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell. Six active college football players joined last summer as well.

Who Will Be Ruling?: Judge Claudia Wilken, a U.S. District Judge in California. It’s a bench trial, not a jury trial, meaning that after hearing the arguments, Wilken will be delivering a verdict herself.

What Will Happen To The NCAA If They Lose?: Well, nothing will happen immediately. Regardless of which way Wilken rules, this case will be headed to an appeals court, and if the time it took to actually get this case to go to trial — a month-and-a-half shy of five years — is any indication, the legal-wrangling could get lengthy.

But if the plaintiffs do prevail, it would allow the athletes in the revenue sports to be able to access a share of the billion-dollar television deals currently being brokered between the NCAA, their member conferences and television networks. Could that cut the number of teams and scholarships available for other sports? Probably. Would that expedite the Power 5 Conferences from splitting with the NCAA? That’s also a possibility, as is an eventual change to how the NCAA tournament is structured.

It won’t, however, ruin the market for major college sports. As long as there are people willing to watch the games en masse, the games will be played.

Twitter accounts to Follow: We will have updates for you right here, but for those of you on twitter, the best follows are, in alphabetical order:

Duke knocks off No. 13 Louisville in first game of critical four-game stretch

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Grayson Allen scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half and Brandon Ingram added 18 points, 10 boards and four assists as Duke picked up a critical win over No. 13 Louisville in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday night, 72-65.

A call this a critical win for the Blue Devils because it kicks off what may be the most important two-week stretch of Duke’s schedule This weekend, the Blue Devils square off with No. 9 Virginia. Next Wednesday, they’re at the Dean Dome to take on No. 7 North Carolina. Four days after that, they head to the Bluegrass State to pay a visit to Louisville.

 

With the way that Duke has been struggling on the defensive end of the floor without Amile Jefferson, that’s a stretch that could derail Duke’s season; entering Monday, all four of those games were losable. But a four-game winning streak — or even going 3-1 in that stretch — could completely change the tenor of what has been a fairly disappointing year for the defending champs, and that’s before they get Jefferson back to 100 percent.

And the difference was defensively, at least in the first half.

I’ve written in this space a number of times about how opponents know what they’re going to get from Duke defensively. Coach K, traditionally, plays half court man-to-man defense, switching every exchange — ball-screen, off-ball pick or simply when two players run by one another — that doesn’t involve the center. In recent years, he’s played some zone in situations where he defense has struggled or, like this season, when he doesn’t have the depth to risk foul trouble. We’ve even seen some 2-2-1 pressure from him of late.

But on Monday night, Duke played straight man-to-man for much of the game, and in the first half, it seemed to fluster the Cardinals. They scored just 24 points in the first 20 minutes, and while Louisville did find a way to break Duke down defensively in the second half — they shot better than 55 percent from the floor after the break — but part of the reason Duke was able to win this game was the lead they built. After a three from Allen opened scoring in the second half, the Blue Devils were up by 14, and while Louisville made a run down the stretch, they could never get control of the game.

Duke is becoming appointment viewing for basketball nerds like me that pay too much attention to X’s-and-O’s to see what kind of wrinkle Coach K is going to put in to try and compensate defensively, so I’m not sure that this performance sticks. But it is worth noting that this was the first time in eight games the Blue Devils gave up less than 1.0 PPP, and the first time since Dec. 19th they did so against an NCAA tournament-caliber team.

As far as Louisville is concerned, you have to tip your hat to those kids. They played their hearts out and fought back from a big deficit in one of the toughest places in the country to play. They did all that three days after their school ripped their hearts out with an NCAA tournament ban for this season.

So good for them. You never know how a team is going to react to something like that, but the Cardinal players showed that they have some serious fight in them.

Iowa State’s starting center Jameel McKay remains suspended

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay celebrates on the court at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 82-77. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.

“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”

McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.

“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.