Winning on the Road Proving Very Difficult in Basketball
This Saturday reinforced one facet of college basketball.
It's tough to win on the road.
I know. This may be tantamount to saying the sky is blue, but it's always great to get a nice reminder. It also exhibits one of the great things about college basketball: parity.
Conference play continued as Michigan State fell at Northwestern, Michigan went down to Iowa, UNC was trounced by the Seminoles, Kansas State faltered again in Norman and the favorites in the Mountain West, UNLV, lost to San Diego State.
UNC was the preseason No. 1 team but has now lost three times. As you could guess, all have come away from Chapel Hill.
MSU looked like the best team in the Big Ten through most of the month. A few hours in Evanston and they're in a first place tie with Illinois, one game ahead of a whole heap of teams.
These are all examples of higher-ranked teams that went down as road favorites today. This doesn't include the big favorites who won at home today, such as Baylor, Mizzou, Marquette and Xavier.
More importantly, it doesn't include the major scares that St. Louis and Kentucky got today. SLU came back to beat Charlotte by one while Kentucky barely escaped in Knoxville.
I for one love the parity and tumult that occurs in college basketball. Proponents of college football will argue that every game counts and therefore, if a top 10 team lost on the road, they would be eliminated.
Which Was Most Surprising Saturday?
Every game counts in college basketball too. While Michigan State is still going to make the tournament and have a chance to win a national championship, their loss will hurt their chances of winning the Big Ten championship greatly. Ask any coach what their number one goal is and they'll tell you: Win the conference title.
At the time of this printing, there are only three undefeated teams in the nation: Baylor, Syracuse and Murray State (the latter of the two play tonight, both at home). That said, Kentucky, Duke and the three aforementioned teams are the only teams from a major conference that haven't lost in conference play...and it is still very early. Give credit to Duke for beating Virginia and Georgia Tech, but I don't feel as if they'll run the table in the ACC simply because they're 2-0.
Again, it is what's so great about college basketball. No one goes undefeated, no one is expected to go undefeated. The upsets occur much more often than college football and I don't feel as if they're any less special because of their increased frequency.
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