Tuesday, February 14, 2012

College Basketball Ready for Some Hoopla

Well it didn’t take long for the college basketball season to step right up and knock down a huge night of jumpers and excitement in it’s first real season spotlight. With the NFL season now history and the NBA campaign barely a third of the way through a strike shortened year, with some fans still angry, college hoop delivered on its first real big stage.

The appetizer was one of the final Big East battles between Georgetown and Syracuse with the Orange’s pending move to the ACC next year. The schools could still plan to play each other in the future but it won’t be the same as their conference battles over the last three decades. Almost 28-thousand crammed into the Carrier Dome for the 87th meeting between the rivals and they, as well as the television audience weren’t disappointed! The second-ranked Orangeman survived shooting just 35 percent to rally and force overtime with the 11th ranked Hoyas. In the extra period, they would outscore Georgetown 9-6 despite trailing by four in the OT, for the 64-61 victory. With the win, Jim Boeheim passed Dean Smith into third place on the all-time Division One win list with 880 victories. Afterwards Boeheim said he was just happy to get the win, in a game where the largest lead for either team was just six points.

After the Syracuse win, only one match-up could surpass the previous game and that of course had to take place on Tobacco Road. Duke and North Carolina have been playing each other since 1920 and 92 years later the rivalry is still the greatest in the sport. Wednesday’s game was not hurt by the fact the host Tar Heels were ranked 5th while the Blue Devils came in at number nine. None of that matters of course when these foes meet on the hardwood. As a matter of fact nothing seems to make sense other than the team that plays the hardest for the longest period of 40 minutes, usually gets the win. UNC found that out the hard way at the Dean Dome. The Tar Heels led almost the entire evening while shooting just under 50 percent for the game. Duke, who was coming off a loss to Miami in their last game, appeared to being doing just enough to avoid being blown out as the Blue Devils teetered on the verge of multiple double-digit deficits for most of the second half. But the inconsistent visitors had one thing working in Chapel Hill last night, the three point shot. While Carolina only made just one of six, Coach K’s crew fired up 36 and knocked down 14, that’s almost 39 percent. So even though they trailed by ten with just two and a half minutes left, there was still hope. Hope was enough when super-frosh Austin Rivers had the ball with less than ten seconds and the Devils down only two. Forget driving to the hoop and maybe dishing after the defense collapsed. Off the pick and role with the seven-footer Tyler Zeller in his face, he let his tenth three-point shot of the game fly and the result was pure pandemonium for the Duke faithful that made the short drive from Durham. Nothing but net for the stunning 85-84 win at the buzzer, as the Blue Devils stormed the court in front of 21,750 stunned Tar Heel faithful. A career high of 29 points on six of ten from long range for the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

If you weren’t picking a side in either of these elite tussles it didn’t matter. College basketball is ready to capture, engage and awe any fan who enjoys drama. After all, that’s what makes sports, true reality television at its best; the drama is real. Now that the time of the year has come for college hoops to gather its attention, it appears more than ready to hold the spotlight.

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