It's Monday and there is nothing but wounded egos and a boatload of ranked teams licking their wounds. Stunning how many teams lost over the weekend giving us more of a reason to love the sport of college basketball. There aren't even that many upsets in a regular season of the NBA. Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Villanova, Florida, Texas A&M, BYU, UConn and Wisconsin all lost on Saturday. We almost saw the only undefeated team go down at Northwestern. Sunday we saw Duke dismantled by St. John's and Washington fall at rival Washington State.
These results are great for parity, but bad for those schools in the smaller conferences who desperately want an at-large bid. I had a friend tell me that St. John's wasn't worthy of a bid. You can't say that right now after the way they beat Duke. The Red Storm finished up a stretch of eight straight ranked games winning only three. It's a catch-22 for teams like that. Tons of chances to get good wins, but you have to actually win some of those games. Do you give them the benefit of the doubt because they won only three of eight during that stretch? The team that took the court on Sunday was one of the best 68 teams in the country. The team that lost to Fordham? Not so much. It's the peaks and valleys of this sport. Any team can get up for 40 minutes to knock off a rival or a ranked team.
The game that touched me the most this weekend was Hawaii and Utah State. This game fell completely under the radar mostly because those on the East Coast were well asleep. Being a college basketball geek/degenerate gambler, I threw a little something down on the Rainbows at home. Always a tough trip to go to the islands. I fired up the ESPN Radio Hawaii broadcast and sat in my apartment to listen in. I was treated to one of the best games of the season. Hawaii had a nice lead and blew it. There was an overtime and then another overtime. Unfortunately Hawaii could not pull it out. One of the best stories involving this contest was Jeremiah Ostrowski. The little used guard had played just 68 mins in eight games before Sunday morning. His father passed away suddenly just a few days before the January 30th contest. Miah, as they called him on the broadcast, went out and played inspired basketball scoring 15 points adding six assists and three steals in 38 minutes of work. ((GO HERE AND WATCH- http://www.flipshare.com/ViewFbReshare.aspx?i=7f0c83df-fe42-4e43-9a68-ddd107b090a6)) It was a tremendous crowd for a losing team who has struggled the past few seasons.
The ironic thing about sports is that the best headlines/stories don't always come from the best games. Manhattan and Marist played Sunday at noon in a game that combined two teams with seven wins between them. Neither has any sort of aspirations of postseason play, but they were on TV and on the court for a pretty good contest. Michael Alvarado who is one of the Jaspers better players heaved up a shot from half-court at the buzzer to knock off the Red Foxes. The jubilation that the team felt was pretty great to see.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have Centenary. The Gentlemen as they are called are 0-23, 0-11 in the Summit Conference. It's almost painful to call up their team page and look at the schedule. This is a team that has played just six home games so far. Their closest loss was by four at home against Missouri Kansas City on January 13th. Their best chance at a win could be February 24th when they host seven win Western Illinois. Somehow Centenary played a home and home with Division II Arkansas-Monticello and lost both games to them. The Boll Weevils led wire-to-wire in both contests. Should be noted that the Centenary women's basketball team is 0-17 as well. The Ladies lost 100-36 at Oakland on Saturday. At least baseball season is coming for them soon. They at least won a game.
Overall, it was a great weekend on the college hardcourt. More weekends like this and we're going to have to find a catchy F phrase to match March Madness in February.