Wow. Wow. Wow. Did a January Saturday feel like a March Thursday for a while there?
From the Yum Center to Charles Koch Arena to the Pauley Pavilion, and plenty of places in between, there were some big time battles early this conference season. Oh and the best part? They were happening simultaneously! It really felt like an NCAA Tournament afternoon.
I hear the same gripes, from the same crew, that college basketball needs a more meaningful regular season. I really don’t get that to be honest. Does non-conference scheduling need to get better across the board? Of course, but come conference play we’ve got major league battles all around.
The Syracuse Orange–Louisville Cardinals classic is one of those games that almost certainly will determine the difference between getting a number one and number two seed on selection Sunday which is a huge deal statistically Getting the easiest road to Atlanta is the ultimate goal during the regular season.
The Creighton Blue Jays–Wichita State Shockers battle basically just ended the debate over the latter’s at-large’s chances. Wichita State is getting into the dance regardless of what’s happens in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.
And finally, the battle out in the Pac 12 was perhaps even more important than the first two. It was a slug fest for conference respect. For the first time in nearly four years, two teams in that conference matched up while both were ranked. Both the Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins represented themselves well in a game that showed both could make some serious noise come March.
Sure some games don’t mean nearly as much as others but that’s not a college basketball problem, that’s a problem of all long season sports with the only possible exception being the NFL. If you don’t get that college basketball’s big games mean something after this afternoon than perhaps you should pick another sport. You apparently just don’t get it.
Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.