Justice Is Served

March 19, 2010 12:16 AM

Unbelievable! Ohio U. upsets No. 3 Hoyas

The exuberance ran free Thursday night in Athens, Ohio. It rolled unchecked on Court Street as students on the Ohio U. campus treated the occasion like St. Patrick's Day-plus One or an early rendition of the annual Halloween celebration the place is renowned for.


Students had the beer flowing. It wasn't the horrid green stuff they drank to excess a day earlier, but the chilled, golden brew that can complement a street party like this one. OU students, of course, had reasons aplenty to party, as a young writer I mentor reminded me.

He and his friends were downright giddy -- if not yet drunk -- after watching what has been the surprise of the NCAA Tournament. Their Bobcats had just upset No. 3-seed Georgetown, a loss that sent coach John Thompson Jr. and his Hoyas back to Washington, D.C., with their respect in tatters.

And the picturesque campus in the foothills of Southern Ohio was abuzz.

Deep into the night's celebration, my mentee could find few words to sum up his feelings. Actually, he found just one: "Unbelievable."

He picked an appropriate one, too. For the win over the Hoyas was unbelievable and improbable and, perhaps better still, impossible to fathom. I don't know what might better words, but a No. 14 seed like the Ohio Bobcats aren't supposed to beat Georgetown.

They can beat Akron and Miami and Ball State. Those sorts of wins are fine. They beat an IPFW, a Cleveland State, a Fresno State, a Jackson State, a Georgia State. That's all right - one mid-major beating another is to be expected. But the Bobcats beat a team from the Big East. They did so in the NCAA Tournament, winning a game in which survival was at stake.

They're not supposed to do that; such wins don't happen - ever. Not even in a man's dreams, right?

To dream it, you end up waking up in a cold sweat, sheets soaked. For these are fairy-tale endings, really. Throw away the old any-given-day cliché, because it's just the rhetoric of college coaches, who might not believe it themselves.  

How often do they see this?


Yet it wasn't so much that Ohio won, because strange things have happened on the road to the NCAA Finals. Go back and reread your NCAA bracket from a year ago, and you'll see how upset after upset eliminated teams you had been picked to go deep into the tournament.

One after another, big names fell to schools that were lucky to get an invitation to the "Big Dance." Any given day ...

For the 'Cats, that day was Thursday night in Providence, R.I. It was a win that showcased an underappreciated conference and put the spotlight on two slender guards - freshman D.J. Cooper and junior Armon Bassett -- who could hoop it up for almost any basketball program in the tournament.

"It's awesome," my friend texted me, two beers into his night of celebration. "What a game!"

This OU win ought to send a message to the men who sit behind closed doors on Selection Sunday. Upsets like these should show them how misguided their thinking is when it comes to mid-majors. The process is rife with bias toward the "elite" conferences.

But few of the men and women trolling the bars on Court Street had selection bias on the brain this night. They were basking in the glow of an unbelievable win, a win against a Big East powerhouse that, bracket experts claimed, would crush the Bobcats.

Now, the only crushing the Bobcats fans will see this night are the empty beer cans that litter the streets of downtown Athens, Ohio. Their team survives to play another day.

"It's so crazy here, buddy," my friend told me in a text. "We rushed the streets like Halloween."



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