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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Don't Sleep on the Bulls!

So after a particularly long and tiring but ultimately successful and rewarding WinterFest 2009, I came home on Friday night and went to bed. In doing so, I skipped the usual rundown of media I tend to take in at several points throughout the day. No ESPN. No Google blog reader. no Bullspen. No, my friends, I didn't even check Facebook. So it should come as no surprise that it wasn't until I woke up this morning that I heard the news:

USF men's hoops beat #8 Marquette!!!

Now I'm the first to admit, I pay a good deal less attention to my Bulls during basketball season than I do during football season. There are a few primary reasons for this: Before starting school at USF, I already had a college hoops team (UMBC), which is not something I can say for football. Second, we tend to hang out near the bottom of the mega-conference that is the Big East. And third, a corollary to two, it's a good deal harder to catch USF hoops on TV. Even last night's game--while you'd think our limited press would occur when playing highly ranked opponents--was only on ESPN360, which I can't get at home. But after playing ranked teams tough several times throughout the season, the chips fall our way and the Bulls pull one off!

It's interesting living in ACC country and being a Big East alum during basketball season. While the two conferences spend all of football season as BCS also-rans, the tables turn for basketball season, in which they are the veritable cocks of the walk. There's also the inevitable "who's better?" argument, and while it's not entirely apples and oranges, comparing a 16 team league to one with only 3/4 as many participants. Do you compare top-to-top? Who's deepest top to bottom? Who's stronger top to #12 (leaving out the bottom 4 of the Big East)? My argument was always that top to bottom, the ACC had the edge because of the bottom quarter of the Big East, so I'm proud that my alma mater, part of that bottom quarter, is doing its part to prove me wrong.

At UNCG this past week, we learned a valuable lesson playing Stephen Curry and the Davidson Wildcats at the Greensboro Coliseum: We can throw a helluva party. The game was played before a sold out (in its configuration) Coliseum crowd of nearly 12,000 and was preceded by a student organization tailgate (which was pretty boss, if I do say so myself) and SpartanFest, which was similar to the FanFest held there each year during ACC and NCAA tournament action. The atmosphere was electric, and despite a sizable Davidson crowd, blue and gold controlled the stands. And while we did lose to Davidson (as every other team in the conference has thus far) it wasn't the horribly mismatched game it was on paper. This game was a test run of sorts; starting next year, the Greensboro Coliseum will become the full-time home of the Spartans.

UMBC is among the easiest to stay abreast of but the hardest to actually watch of the teams I follow. Sadly, things haven't been going nearly as well as they did last year during the conference championship run. As i mentioned, we pulled Rider in Bracketbusters--not a bad trip at all for those traveling from MD, and as Neil of UMBC Basketball Rally Monkey mentioned, it's not too far from my parent's home in Delaware. I'd love to make the trip up, but I don't think it's in the cards.

In other-sport news, lacrosse season starts today for some, though UMBC's first game isn't until Valentine's Day at UD. Sadly, there's no lax on TV yet. With the addition of ESPNU, I love the days wehre you can spend a whole Saturday in front of the tube watching lacrosse as I do with football.

And finally, I won't profess to know a thing about track and field, but the RSS feed of UMBCRetrievers.com that I read leads me to believe that there are quite a few on the UMBC track team kicking ass and taking names. Go Dawgs!
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