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Will Stewart 

Joined: 9/18/99 Posts: 67092
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The Athletic, on over-reaction to college basketball losses.

I think about this all the time. Emphasis added by me. Next time VT lays an egg against an FSU or a Miami, it doesn't suggest a sweeping issue with the program. And likewise, that victory over UNC is nice, but you have to admit, the Heels didn't put forth nearly the effort that they did last night against Duke.

Friday, February 9, 2018
Brian Hamilton writes:

Last Saturday night, on its fifth straight day spent roughly 1,500 miles from home, Arizona lost a game at the buzzer at Washington. It was the program's first loss in about a month and just its second since late November. No one panicked, exactly, but the result was nevertheless lumped in with losses suffered by Duke and Kentucky on the same day, creating another WHAT DOES THIS MEAN geyser blast in the world of college basketball.

I get it. Kind of. Reacting to/examining results is part of sports. But I'm also old enough to remember when college basketball teams were permitted to, like, lose games without tearing at the very fabric of existence and unspooling everything we've ever known to be true. Has overreaction ever been more prevalent in the sport than it is now?

"A lot of people want the narrative to be college basketball isn’t what it used to be, because the best teams, the teams that you’re used to seeing as the strongest, are now the youngest," Arizona coach Sean Miller told me a few days after that Washington loss. "So they go to great lengths to point that out. And I honestly believe this — every year I’ve been at Arizona, it’s like, ‘This year, there’s no great team.’ How do you define that? I understand there are some programs and teams that have that one (season) where you look back and say, 'Wow.' For the most part, parity is going to exist in college basketball."

I won't relitigate the use of the P-word here. But college basketball just doesn't lend itself to referendums every time the ball is tipped. What is true one day could be capsized or remedied two or three days later. However, Miller might be on to something with this pursuit of identifying "great" teams. It doesn't seem to leave a lot of room for failure, if any, in the calculation.

Put another way: The eight squads that earned No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in last year's NCAA tournament? They lost 40 times, combined, before the event began.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Well, it means good-to-great teams fail all the time.

When Villanova and Purdue dropped home games on Wednesday -- to St. John's and Ohio State, respectively -- I didn't sense an overload of overreaction. A step forward, hopefully. And now we've got a massive slate of high-profile action on Saturday: Butler-Villanova, Xavier-Creighton, Purdue-Michigan State, Kentucky-Texas A&M, Gonzaga-Saint Mary's, USC-Arizona. Even if the games impact conference championship races, not a one of them will be defining in almost any truly meaningful way, barring an injury that changes the complexion of a roster moving ahead.

Are the results important? Sure. But also maybe not! Can victories boost tournament seeding, thereby improving a team's postseason hopes? Yes! But so can other games this month and next month -- possibly! That's a tough reality to accept in an increasingly binary world, but this isn't a one-game-a-week sport, and we're only just now hitting the home stretch.

Anyway, St. John's is probably back.

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Photo by James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Posted: 02/09/2018 at 11:09AM


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The Athletic, on over-reaction to college basketball losses. -- Will Stewart  02/09/2018 11:09AM

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