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This is why we love college basketball

Posted by Jeff Nusser on January 19, 2008

This college basketball season had been notable up until this point not because of the parity that made the college football season so much fun, but because of the lack of notable upsets.

That all changed on Upset Saturday.

No. 1 North Carolina, No. 4 UCLA, No. 10 Texas A&M, No. 15 Pitt, No. 18 Ole Miss, No. 21 Miami (FL), No. 22 Arizona State … they all went down to unranked teams today. Let me tell you, I picked a heck of a good day to plant my butt in front of the television from sunup to sundown.

This is the beauty of the sport we love. It’s not so much that there are upsets. Heck, there are upsets in the NBA all the time. It’s that the upsets mean something, both to fans and players. All you needed to know about the giant difference between the Sonics jumping up and biting the Celtics (just pretend it could happen) and Maryland knocking off the No. 1 team in the country — on the Heels’ home court, no less — you saw on the faces of the Terps.

There’s just something special about college basketball. If you don’t bring it every game — and because we’re talking about kids that are 22 and younger, they’re not going to — you’re going to get beaten. And that’s exactly what happened to a number of these teams today.

I especially was surprised by UCLA’s flat performance against USC, in which the rest of the Pac-10 celebrated the Bruins coming back to the pack. They just did not play with anywhere near the same intensity or focus that they played with against the Cougars. Their defense was a shell of what it was a week ago as Pauley didn’t have the same buzz, and they let the Trojans hang around far longer than they should have.

The result was a win that surprised the heck out of me. (Just check out my blowhard prediction and subsequent dose of crow.) The rest of the Pac-10 has been thrown into a bit of disarray as well, what with Oregon’s loss to Washington on Thursday, the Sun Devils’ loss to Stanford and Arizona’s win over Cal today. The result is a conference in which no one is undefeated and eight teams – eight! – are within two games of first place three weeks into the conference season.

But that’s why we love this game.

Let’s just hope we don’t hate it tomorrow for the same reason.

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