Why We're Very, Very Excited About the Start of College Basketball Season

Jeez, Patrick. I think there's an angry, poorly-constructed sign in Zucotti Park waiting for you to hold it aloft. Also you neglected to mention the most famous basketball-related "boycott"—the threat by the 1964 NBA All-Stars, including Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and Jerry West to boycott the All-Star Game over a pension dispute. Just minutes before the game was supposed to go on, the owners caved and agreed to the players' demands. Maybe Russell, who recently joined Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA, could give today's college hoops stars some tips.

If not, I'm looking forward to watching Northwestern finally make the NCAA tournament. My beloved Wildcats are the only power conference program that has never made the Big Dance, which is ironic since the school hosted the first NCAA tournament in 1939 (the site of the tourney, Patten Gymnasium, is now used for such watershed events as pickup basketball games, fencing practice and Ludacris concerts).

Much like the pre-1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, Northwestern fans have developed an almost perverse hope that blooms every November and withers by mid-March, our own reverse winter from Hell. Our current coach, Bill Carmody, has been at the helm for 11 years without a tourney berth but lingers on, like Joe Paterno without the success.

But I'm calling it this year, people: We're making the Big Dance. Senior forward John Shurna is a beanpole of a man who can find a way to score from anywhere on the floor. Junior Drew Crawford, now a season removed from his Big Ten Freshman of the Year campaign, is a talent waiting to explode. And though the conference has several strong teams this year, it is short on dominant big men (Ohio State's Jared Sullinger is the notable exception), which should mitigate the Wildcats' glaring size disadvantage.

The rest of you can drone on about North Carolina, Michigan State, and Kansas, the investment banks of NCAA hoops. I'll be glued to the mom-and-pop shop that is Northwestern. Here's to making history.

–Jake

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Presented by

Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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