Madness… a seven letter word that characterizes an entire sport with the utmost accuracy. Men’s college basketball has long been known as a game of perpetual upsets and incredible unpredictability. From a statistical standpoint the lack of sanity that notably accompanies college basketball is well deserved. According to FOX Sports, “there is no documentation to suggest that anyone has ever scored a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket”.
While March may provide an environment that fosters this insanity, college basketball is unique in that the winding road of inconceivability pases through all months leading to the tournament. It is not surprising then, to hear that this mundane week in January was in fact a historic one in college basketball. This week there were 18 loses by top 25 teams, including two losses by former number one, Kansas. This unprecedented number of losses was amplified when the number one seed the Oklahoma Sooners fell to the Iowa State Cyclones, making it the fifth loss by a number one team before the month of February (a record previously help by the 1948-49 season).
Why is men’s college basketball seemingly a game of chance? Here at My Weekly Sports we have attributed this to three main categories.
One… the mind of college students.
Two… evolving talent.
One. The naive mind of a 19 year old is a breeding ground for thoughts of deviance and revolt. Just as many social movements are born in musty college dorms, so are the hopes and dreams of a team. The idea of defeating a top team, remains just that, an idea until the team, the coach, the school buy in, now we have a movement on our hands. To knock off a highly ranked team, likely has little long-term significance during the course of 30+ game season, but the moment of perfect glory, the feeling of exhilaration, that fills their chests as students storm the court, can live forever in memory of the players.
Two. College basketball is different from many other sports at the collegiate level in that athletes are only required to remain at this level for one year. Unlike football, where even star players commonly complete all four years at their alma mater, outstanding college basketball players will often declare for the NBA draft after a single freshman season. In this way, top programs are at a disadvantage to schools who will likely never lose a freshman, or even sophomore, to the NBA. The necessity to build and develop a new team before every season, inherently leaves holes and weakness for the top ranked schools and leaves the door cracked open for teams aspiring for upset glory.
Three. In order to beat a top team, to pull off the unimaginable, requires a certain amount of luck. While coaches would have us believe that the victory can be simply attributed to hard work and dedication, it is important to remember that behind every upset is some good fortune. The twelve round grueling fight that is a college basketball game, cannot be won without a little bit of luck sitting over in your corner.
As I sat and watched number one, Kanas, fall, a smile slowly slid onto my face, and I realized that this is why the games are played, because no matter which team is the favorite, college basketball will always manage to surprise us. And that is why we play the game.