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Sports Opinion: March comes early this year

By Kyle Isaacs
On January 24, 2012

College basketball centers arounds the notion that on any

given night, any team could lose, regardless of rank or record. For most seasons this belief might fall by the wayside, but the 2011-12 season is reminding everyone of the unpredictability of the sport. This year's season has seen good teams topple, long losing streaks from top-tier

programs and some game results that are uncommon.

The Associated Press rankings are a strong indicator of how well a team is playing throughout the season.

As of Jan. 22, there have been 41 different teams to break into the AP Top 25. In fact, many of the current teams in the top 25 were nowhere to be found in the AP Preseason Rankings. Additionally, 11 of the top 25 teams in the first poll of the year are no longer ranked, including our Xavier Musketeers. The craziness of the 2011-12 season can give Musketeer fans some solace. Xavier hit a rough skid midseason and lost five out of six games, dropping them out of the polls. However, Xavier is not the only team who has seen such misfortune. The University of

Louisville, which ascended to the No. 4 ranking in December, lost four out of six games to fall in the polls.

Indiana University, who surprised many experts in its rise

to the No. 7 ranking in the nation, lost three of their past four

games.

While many Xavier fans might have written our season off after December, no team has struggled worse than the University of Pittsburgh. The Panthers were an early favorite to win the national title but have now dropped eight games in a row.

The lone shining star of the college basketball season had been Syracuse University, which sprinted out of the gate to a 20-0 start. However, even the Orange fell to the University of Notre Dame this weekend in a surprising

fashion.

The unranked Fighting Irish tore apart the Syracuse defense, making the team look faultering despite many who

picked Syracuse to win the title. Losing streaks aside, this season has seen some surprising results in the box

scores. The third-ranked University of North Carolina suffered its worst defeat in years, falling to the University of Florida State by 33 points.

The Louisville Cardinals suffered a setback in Big East play

when they lost to Providence College by 31 points. These defeats were shocking in their own right, but no game was as lopsided as Western Carolina University's game with

Toccoa Falls College last Tuesday. Western Carolina defeated Toccoa Falls 141-39, becoming only the

fourth school in Division I history to beat a team by more

than 100 points. With all the madness going on in college

basketball, one can wonder if this is the year for mid-major

programs. The last two Final Fours have seen upstart mid-majors making their first appearance. Who's to say this season's edition of the Final Four will be any different?

If the Musketeers can right their ship by the time March rolls

around, we might all be traveling south to see Xavier play in the New Orleans 2012 Final Four.


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