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LAWS ON THE COURT, College Basketball Edition: Has the Madness Already Begun?

If you’re a fan of college basketball, you may be asking yourself if March can live up to February in terms of quality of games and what we’ve seen thus far. It’s been upsets, top-10 matchups, conference rivalries (with some coming to a bittersweet end) and mostly anything else you could ask for.

Arguably the biggest game from this last weekend came from the penultimate matchup between two schools entrenched in one of college basketball’s greatest rivalries: Georgetown / Syracuse for the final time in conference play at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse in front of an NCAA-record crowd of 35,012. The two teams will play each other again in the last game of the regular season at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. – the final time the rivals will meet each other in conference play with ‘Cuse moving to the ACC next year.

The game was not necessarily “good” in the sense that the two were not trading the lead back and forth as GU’s Otto Porter Jr., took over the game in the second half, scoring a career-high 33 points, well over half of the Hoyas’ points in the 57-46 GU victory. But the passion in the Carrier Dome on that day was evident.

And that’s what February is giving us: passionate games played by college-aged student-athletes whose only care in the world is to win. It’s not about paychecks, but it’s truly one of those times when the athletes are doing this for school pride and the name on the front of the jersey (to pull the biggest cliche out of the book!) Check out Otto Porter Jr., exiting the Carrier Dome following Saturday’s game below, courtesy of his Instagram.

When Indiana and Michigan State battled it out on February 19, it was a top-five matchup between two schools in the same conference. That seemed like foreshadowing to a Final Four game moreso than a mid-February tilt.

It begs the question if March will live up to everything that February has offered the fans or if it will be comparable to the good-on-paper boyfriend who has all the potential to be what you want but never lives up to your expectations. Only time will tell.

Teams To Look Out For

With the Madness just days away, it’s always good to know what teams seem to be peaking at the right time – at least for brackets’ sake, right? So, here’s a rundown of teams that are poised to be prime at the end of March.

Indiana (Big Ten Conference)

Have you seen the movie Hoosiers? Well, if you haven’t, go do that. But more importantly, watch the 2012-13 Hoosiers and how good they really are. The team has lost one game in December, one game in January and one game in February. Yes to all you math majors out there – that’s three losses. The team is sharp, no doubt – and the games they have lost seemed like minor lapses in judgment. The toughest thing Indiana has ahead of them is the fact that they’re playing in what is arguably the best conference in basketball this season and they will spend every game between now and the tournament beating up on each other as they finish out the regular season and the conference championship. (Indiana now has four losses following a loss at Minnesota)

Miami (Atlantic Coast Conference)

Okay, I will tell you a secret. I like Miami. I think they’re the best team in the country right now despite their current No. 5 ranking in the February 25 Associated Press poll. They dropped after an abysmal loss to Wake Forest. But you know what? I still like Miami. Yes, they had a lot of close games leading up to the eventual in-conference loss, but unlike some other teams that were looking to avoid an upset, the Hurricanes looked like a team finding a way to win as opposed to a team that was trying really hard to not lose a game. The team is coached by Jim Larranaga – a man with some familiarity with success like when he took the unlikely George Mason Patriots to the 2006 Final Four in Indianapolis. I’m a firm believer in having a good “punch you in the face” kind of loss at this time of year. It reminds the players of how terrible it feels to lose and they say to themselves, “well, I don’t want that to happen again.”

Michigan State (Big Ten Conference)

Yes, I’m giving the Big Ten a lot of credit this year. I’m giving them a lot of credit when they have potential to get tired early because the league continues to beat each other up. But I’m choosing to tip my hat to the Fightin’ Tom Izzos (aka the Spartans) mainly because of Tom Izzo. He’s just one of those coaches that I feel like will figure it out with his team and if they get the right bracket (i.e. avoiding other Big Ten schools who have played against his team) they can definitely go far. They played Indiana hard and if barely losing to Indiana is their last loss, I think this team can make a run.

Louisville (BIG EAST Conference)

Alright, this goes against my allegiance to the Georgetown Hoyas but if I’m picking a team from the BIG EAST to peak in the tournament, it’s Louisville. Rick Pitino’s boys have great potential and although they’ve suffered some in-conference losses (one against my Hoyas on Jan. 26) I cannot deny that their game can go far in March. As long as they are not shut down offensively, the Cardinals look like a Sweet 16 team at least.

Blogger Note: As I was writing this, Minnesota defeated Indiana and rushed the court. I did not change my blog because I need to own up to believing in this team!


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