News Flash: It’s a wacky college basketball season!
Oh really, I hadn’t noticed.
Trying to sort through the craziness to present to ye my fellow hoopaholics, the most furschlunginer example of What’s-Goin’-On- Here? is a far from easy task. I mean hardwoods across this great and wonderful land of ours are starting to warp from the ups and downs of teams playing on them.
Here’s just a recent example from Saturday.
(A more recent strangeness actually came Sunday in East Lafayette where the 7 loss Purdue Boilermakers crushed Sparty, handing Tom Izzo’s squad the school’s worse loss ever as a Top 10 team. 71-42. State had won 8 in a row.)
But, let’s talk about what 7 loss Syracuse did in that arena named for Led Zeppelin’s bass player against the team which has annually had the best defense in the land, at least since James Naismith speeded up his new game by cutting out the bottoms of the his peach baskets.
Yes, Jim Boeheim’s Orange did upend the defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers. It was obviously their day when Son o’ Jim Buddy Boeheim drained a shot clock Hail Mary as a dagger with a minute and a half to play in OT.
But, it’s not the 63-55 W that’s the most astonishing, nor really ‘Cuse’s point total, 15 more than UVa usually surrenders.
It’s that Syracuse scored 20 during the five minute extra period, after tallying only 19 in the 2d half. Whaaaaat???
I mean it’s like Naismithius sent his helpers to spike the vats at the Gatorade plant with LSD. The season unfolding is nigh hallucinatory.
You got a more reasoned explanation?
Speaking of acid in the Gatorade, I know Virginia’s gym is named for that Revolutionary War naval commander, not Page and Plant’s bandmate. Duh! (I know, sometimes, my writing isn’t as cute as I would think.)
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Remember how after Ohio State had improving Kentucky measured the whole way in a 71-65 win in Vegas, the Buckeyes were The Best Team with The Best Resumé in the land?
Pull out the Big 10 standings. Now, scan down to find Ohio State.
That’s not a typo. It’s the very same Buckeyes, who have lost four straight, three in the league, down there in the cellar with ever woeful Northwestern.
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OK, one more.
There are givens in life, immutable realities that never change.
Hats the size of beach umbrellas at the Derby. Complaints about having to listen to Dan Dakich. My annual visits to New Orleans every spring for JazzFest.
And Clemson losing to North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Which in the previous 59 encounters before Saturday going back to the 1920s had been the outcome Every Single Time. Even in those seasons when the Tar Heels weren’t that good.
And, dadgummit, Roy Williams’ Baby Blues aren’t worth a damn this season, but still . . .
. . . in OT . . . in Chapel Hill . . . Clemson 79, Carolina 76.
What’s next, frogs from the sky? The reincarnation of Pistol Pete? Williams, winner of several national crowns, actually being terminated as he asked?
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Which brings me to the Flavor of the Week. Flavor of the Day? Flavor of the Hour?
Scott Drew and Baylor, come on down. The spotlight awaits.
Not only is Baylor, currently, at this very moment -- But don’t blink it’s sure to change -- The Best Team with The Best Resumé, but the Bears vanquished their own ofer streak on Saturday. When the school won for the first time ever at the Phog in Lawrence, Kansas.
Baylor’s only loss came way back in the second game of the season, by three to UDub. Since then, Drew’s guys have Top 25 Ws over Villanova, Arizona, surprising Butler (15-1 after Saturday’s W @ Providence), at Texas Tech, and at Rock Chalk Jayhawk.
They remain 3d in Ken Pomeroy’s analytical rankings, and may be similarly situated in the human polls behind Duke and Gonzaga, but it’s their jerseys sports geeks are looking for at FanFanatics. At least as of the moment when I’m typing this.
Speaking of Baylor jerseys, the Waco school is, I believe an adidas school like Louisville, and the team was adorned in gray unis on Saturday in Lawrence. Like the Cards in South Bend. Not that a shoe/ apparel company could or would conceivably dictate something like that.
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So with all this cockamamieness playing out every time the ball is tipped, what’s going to happen come the Madness of March?
Is this the year Mark Few and Gonzaga break on through to the other side?
Butler? Baylor? The Dayton Flyers? Oregon’s Quack? Bobby Huggs’ surging Mountaineers.
Rutgers. (That’s not a joke.)
Here’s my hunch. Given how difficult it’s been for sustained winnability, prevailing in six consecutive games is going to be overwhelming for most. Unless like Warrior Marcus Howard or Pirate Myles Powell or Quack Payton Pritchard morph into Kemba Walker mode.
So, what I’m thinking is a couple of outliers could make it to the Final Four.
Buuuuuuuut, there’s always going to be a Blue Blood or two present.
And, I fear, experience and tradition will prevail in the end.
Oh how my finger ache to type this out, but watch out for the Evil Empire. Though they are consensus Top 5, those Blue Devils aren’t getting as much ink as usual.
And wouldn’t another ring for Coach K be a punch in the face?!!?!?
-- c d kaplan