Monday, March 19, 2007

how sweet (16) it is

I’ve been dying for college football to start and I realize that I still have a little more than 5 months to go, but something magical has happened that has made me forget how much I miss college football. And that magic is USC’s appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. I’ve been bragging to anyone who would listen that USC will be making the Final Four in 2008 thanks to OJ Mayo, the nation’s top basketball recruit, but little did I know that a 2007 trip could be a possibility.

I can’t speak about college basketball like I can speak about college football and baseball, mainly because USC has been traditionally good at football and baseball and I’ve been following our seasons since before I enrolled my freshman year (speaking of which, did you know that USC has the winningest baseball program in NCAA history with 13 titles?). USC has not had the same kind of success in basketball. But I did follow USC’s basketball season on and off this year and have found that our team has been inconsistently good. Sure the inconsistencies can be frustrating, like that late season loss to 8-22 ASU (sorry, Shell) and that 24 point loss to Oregon in the Pac-10 title game (what the heck?). But there were some bright spots (like those wins against then #8 Wichita State, then # 13 Washington, and then #17 Oregon). I knew that we were going to the tournament, but I wasn’t sure that we’d get a good seed (or even get placed in a good region)

So while UCLA got exactly what they wanted (playing their games in Cali in the West Region), USC got stuck in the same region as UNC and Georgetown (the East), playing Arkansas in the first round and Texas (with highly regarded and arguably unstoppable Kevin Durant) in the second. What we saw this weekend was awe-inspiring: A first round shellacking of the Razorbacks followed by a second round massacre of the Longhorns (‘not like football’ thank God). Our awesome defense won those games and I couldn’t be prouder (just like football).

And for the first time EVER, I find myself eagerly awaiting the third round games simply because I finally have a personal stake in it. Can USC (already a tournament bracket buster) be this year’s Cinderella team? The team no one expected to get to the Final Four? Can they defeat both UNC and (likely) Georgetown? Maybe. If George Mason did it last year, why not the Trojans in 2007? Regardless, I’m already proud of what our basketball team has accomplished this year.

But is it too much to ask for just a little more success?

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