Thursday, November 03, 2005

This NCAA Basketball Season, Do Yourself a Favor

The NCAA season is only days away as exhibition games have already begun. Many will follow their Big Six conference school of choice like mindless zombies devouring hours of ESPN Duke love and Dick Vitale quips. Those people will hear Andy Katz say hundreds of times how great some ACC team will be despite their obvious flaws. Those people will miss out on college basketball this season.

I'm not going to clang and clamor about the real athletes who play for love of the game at the DII and DIII levels. I'm talking good, DI hoops. Obviously, I'm a Western Kentucky fan. That's my alma mater and I'm a season ticket holder. But I'm not talking about that either.

Every season in March, we fill out our brackets and we see the teams. Buffalo, Bucknell, Old Dominion, Oral Roberts, WKU, Middle Tennessee, and others. Fodder for the high ranked Big Six schools. But when you want to see a great game, flip over to Fox Sports sometime and watch a game played at the Palestra. St. Joe's is a good example. How good was that team two years ago? Three years prior they had brought nearly the exact cast of characters to WKU's Diddle Arena to beat the Hilltoppers. Let me tell you, they were a good team then.

Dozens of very good basketball teams get overlooked every year because they won't be a top ten seed and that's sad. We'll bypass a matchup between Holy Cross and Lafayette for top honors in the Patriot League to watch UK pound Ole Miss, or UofL humiliate Stetson.

So this season, do something different. Take a little time and learn about mid-majors (a PITIFUL term coined by our good, unbiased friends at ESPN.) Here's some help to jump start you on your way.
1. Read the book, The Last Amateurs by John Feinstein. I just started this book and I already like it after just 20 pages.
2. Visit and read what Kyle Whelliston has to say. It's an extremely great site by a great fan. Whelliston actually attended 100 college basketball games in 04-05. You can read about that too.
3. Visit my good friend and fellow WKU alum Cortney Basham runs this site. Cort is a big WKU fan and you'll read his bias in there, but he also is very knowledgable about college basketball in general. Last year I believe he outperformed every ESPN analyst in his bracket projections. (FYI, he has gained the attention of those at ESPN because of that and has landed a gig writing for )

Enjoy basketball. I by no means am saying don't enjoy Big 6 basketball. I watch it as much as the next guy, but don't be so quick to flip the channell when a mid-major comes on. You may catch the next Wally Sczerbiak, Adonal Foyle, Chris Marcus, or Derek Fisher.

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