The Villanova Wildcats surprised the college basketball world on Tuesday by upsetting fifth-ranked Louisville 73-64 at the Wells Fargo Center. After the game ended, the Villanova students stormed the floor to celebrate their unexpected win. This caused plenty of controversy on Twitter, where a debate raged over whether a program like Nova’s, which was in the Final Four just four seasons ago, and has made four Sweet 16 appearances in the last eight years, should be rushing the court after a regular season victory.
To me, this is not a difficult dilemma at all.
You only go to college once, and when your school is not a traditional national power in the vein of a Duke, a Kansas, a North Carolina or a Kentucky, you savor the moment when your unranked team beats a top-10 foe however you see fit. If it means running out onto the floor and jumping up and down like a fool for 15 minutes, then so be it.
Isn’t college supposed to be about experiences?
You would have to be a super-senior (in your fifth year of school) to have been in the student section when Nova made that Final Four run. If you are a freshman or a sophomore, you have experienced nothing but pain, watching your team go 12-17 last year, and then witnessing an 18-point drubbing at home to Columbia earlier this season. Why shouldn’t you get to enjoy it when something good happens to your 12-7 squad?
Sometimes people forget sports are supposed to be fun, particularly college athletics. For that very reason, old men sit in judgment of college kids taking joy in the accomplishment of their school. All those that overreacted should settle down and remember what it was like to be young.
They should also remember that it was one of their own who had the weirdest reaction to Nova’s upset. This was ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s tweet moments after Nova’s upset went final.
“Villanova to the next four out grouping.”
This means the preeminent expert in projecting the NCAA Tournament field thinks a team that entered Tuesday at No. 75 in the RPI rankings, has just one top-65 win overall, features only a single road-victory over top-120 competition and—again—lost to COLUMBIA by 18 points, is worthy of consideration for the Big Dance if the season ended today.
But Nova students are supposedly the ones overreacting over their team’s upset of Louisville? Give me a break.
Villanova certainly appears headed in the right direction after three consecutive years of significant decline, but let’s make Jay Wright’s team beat a second BCS conference foe away from home before we crown the ‘Cats tournament contenders shall we?
It just speaks to the mediocrity that has gripped the country in college basketball this season. Lunardi is a bright guy, and for him to elevate Nova into the at-large tourney discussion, despite their obviously flawed early-season resume, means the rest of the bubble must be worth as much as Manti Te’o and Lance Armstrong’s word combined.
The game is in bad shape right now. Officials do not call enough fouls, which leads to far too many low-scoring slugfests, where the first team to 50 is often the winner. Those types of games are down-right unbearable to watch.
The only thing saving college basketball right now is the raw emotion it still produces. That energy emanates from the raucous student sections that fill entire arenas with juice.
Why would anyone want to neuter that energy right now? Leave the kids alone and let them celebrate how they want.