There is a time in March, sometimes lasting until early April, when college basketball takes over our nation. Football rules the roost for its entire season, and most people pay pretty close attention to baseball and professional basketball during their respective playoffs and/or finals, but college basketball is something of a different monster.
Starting about 2 weeks ago, college basketball entered the conference play stage of its season. This is known as the second season, mainly because winning the conference title means an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament, so teams that had previously relaxed take things up a notch or three.
With the onset of conference play, things got off to a slamming start for recently crowned number 1 team, Kansas when they got rocked and rolled by inner-state rivals Kansas State. K-State has been nothing to sniff at all season, but when the Jayhawks were unveiled as number 1, on Valentine's Day, with a meeting at the Fred Bramlage Coliseum looming, there were some tremors in the Force. Those proved to be prescient, and Kansas took the big L.
Only a day later, the previous number 1, Ohio State got the best crack from Michigan State. MSU had started the preseason ranked number 2 in the country, but after a back and forth season, had finally tumbled out of the Top 25. However, a Tom Izzo team is a difficult one to truly count out, and they proved so last night. Despite 20 turnovers on the night, the unranked Spartans only lost to #3 Ohio State by ten points.
Meanwhile, in news from back home, the UNM Lobos had finally strung together an impressive win-streak of 4 before suffering an embarrassing and demoralizing loss at Colorado State on Saturday night. After scoring only 22 points in the first half, the Lobos were forced to battle back from a 14-point hole. They almost did so but, unfortunately, almost doesn't count in basketball, much less in the second season.
Everyone's bringing their A game at this point, and the Top 25 is not a safe place to be. For the Lobos, there's some gritty work to be done. The cherry and silver squad plays at San Diego State University tonight, at 8:30 PM MST. SDSU is currently ranked #6 in the country and the game promises to deliver plenty of emotion. With only 6 games left in their schedule, if the Lobos want to make the NCAA Tournament, they need to follow suit. Play with emotion, bring the A game, and join the national obsession in March. The option is still there.