For the Love of the Game: Upsets Remind Us Why We Love College Basketball

Brooks DixonContributor IMarch 22, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 20:  Kwadzo Ahelegbe #11 of the Northern Iowa Panthers attempts a shot against the Kansas Jayhawks during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Ford Center on March 20, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In sports, nothing is more memorable than the class of the titans. Something about two giants in the sports world battling it out for their one chance at a championship.

On the other hand, it is easy for us to favor the little guy.

In 2006, 11th-seeded George Mason University fought all the way to the Final Four before losing to Florida, the eventual national champions. Along the way, almost everyone seemed to be cheering for the “mid-major” school from Virginia.

This season, four of these “mid-major” schools are left in the Sweet 16, each with a legitimate shot to earn a trip to the Final Four. Northern Iowa, awarded a ninth seed by the tournament committee, finds itself in the Sweet 16 after knocking off top-seeded Kansas.

Butler, a team that is well respected year in and year out, was awarded a fifth seed, and after two sucessful outings finds itself facing a giant in No. 1 seed Syracuse on Thursday with a trip to the elite eight on the line.

Cornell, a feisty No. 12 seed from the Ivy League, not to mention the first team from that league to make it to the Sweet 16 since 1979, finds itself with a chance to take down another giant in Kentucky and its fabulous freshmen.

And lastly, St. Mary’s finds itself in a tough tangle with the Baylor Bears, a team picked by many to make it to the Final Four.

Why do we love these teams? After all, would any of you say that these teams belong among the best eight teams in the country?


But what is true is that we constantly find ourselves desiring the chaos that lies in the upset. Sure, we love to watch Kobe vs. Lebron, but something about the little guys will always instill in the sports fan a sense of hope and pride. As it should, sports fans feel as though if the little guy can do it, so can they.

If Cornell makes it to the Final Four, I may hold my head a little higher come Monday morning as I walk into class. Not because I did anything or had my life improved by Cornell’s new found greatness, but because I too am a little guy.

We all are. You don’t likely find your glory in the athletic realm. We don’t find ourselves within the glow or the spotlight that comes with playing professional or amateur sports, but we do sit in the glow of our television screens. And for some reason I can probably never explain, we will celebrate the giants' fall, and as a result, our television screens seem to glow to us. Everything is right in the world.

That is why we watch the NCAA tournament. Not to watch the best team in the country prove that it is the best team in the country, this action achieves no greatness. No, we watch because of the big steps and the hard falls that will eventually lead to someone standing on top.

I for one sure hope it’s the little guy.