I say this as someone whose favorite sport was -- for the first 3/4 of my life -- college basketball, whose career began as a college hoops writer and who once was College Basketball Editor at ESPN.com: College basketball has the most meaningless regular season in sports.
That's not a rip -- college basketball also has the most meaningful postseason in sports. (Don't think those things aren't interconnected, in the same way college football has the best regular season and the worst postseason.)
So I find the regular-season rhythms of college hoops to be hard to find lead-story material in -- even something like UNC-Duke in February is meaningless, when a win or a loss won't really impact either team's season.
But at the front end of the season -- or the occasional moment mid-season -- there is a result that makes you say "Hmm..." and file it away for March bracket work. (Or a mid-November lead item of a Sporting News column.)
I had one of those moments last night, as I watched Gonzaga give Michigan State -- a presumptive Final Four contender -- all it could handle in East Lansing. And watching the highlights of Gonzaga making Kansas look like anything but the overwhelming No. 1 team in the country. And, of course, there was Monday's near-debacle with Kentucky.
All three are teams I assumed would be Final Four -- Elite Eight at the very least. But this was a good reminder that there is no UNC this year; every team can stumble between now and the first Monday in April.
More you'll find in today's column:
*I agree with the folks who see Greinke's Cy as a victory for folks who believe that advanced stats have a place in sports. (Nice contrast to the Luddite freak-out over Belichick's 4th-and-2.)
*I would love to see AI play in New York or New Jersey, and I think both those teams have to consider "entertainment value" as a priority, because winning sure isn't.
*LeBron talking about playing in the NFL is the new LeBron talking about the summer of 2010.
There's a lot more. Check it out here. More later.