Posted by Chris Johnson on December 5th, 2012
Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.
Tonight’s Lede. Jimmy V Classic A Warm Reminder of College Basketball’s Altruistic Impact. Of all the non-conference events peppering college basketball’s November/December calendar, there are few that go above and beyond to create something more than a touristy change-of-pace from the harsh fall climate. The Jimmy V Classic puts every specialized bracket, exempted field and tropical hosting site to shame. It has grown into one of my favorite moments of the season. Not only does it remind us that sports – trivial as they often seem – can help uplift those in dire need of assistance and services. It commemorates the life of one of college basketball’s legendary personalities, Jim Valvano. I make it a point to at least glaze over segments of Valvano’s famous 1993 ESPYs Speech every year, and I wholeheartedly recommend you join me in perusing his inspirational words. Four name-brand programs, including one pegged by many to make a run at the Final Four and another playing its first season without the generational coach who built a program from scratch, took the court Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. The action on the court was the main focus, but Valvano’s impact was not lost, nor will it ever be.
Your Watercooler Moment. You’re Not Dreaming: Baylor Lost To Northwestern… At Home.
The Wildcats got a huge road win to snap a two-game slide (Photo credit: Getty Images).
There was nothing about Northwestern’s trip to Baylor Tuesday night that sparked even the faintest sliver of hope in a Wildcats’ upset. The Bears were coming off a season-defining win at Kentucky, the first opponent to go into Rupp Arena and down the Wildcats since John Calipari took over in Lexington four years ago. Meanwhile, Northwestern was smarting after a dumbfounding home loss to UIC, which came on the heels of a total demolition at the hands of Maryland. These teams were heading in opposite directions. And that’s without getting into the roster minutiae, but it boils down to this: Baylor is bigger, faster, stronger and more talented than Northwestern could ever hope to be in its current construction. The Wildcats reversed their current misfortune by capturing what might go down as the biggest non-conference win of coach Bill Carmody’s tenure. The fatalistic cries of another NIT-destined campaign had amplified in recent weeks, but beating Baylor on the road could be just what the doctor ordered. Northwestern watched its first big non-conference test (Maryland) fall away without mounting but the slightest challenge to Alex Len and company. Baylor was the next, and remotely unfathomable, hurdle. Now the Wildcats get Butler and Stanford in Evanston before entering Big Ten competition. With almost any other team, the first impulse wouldn’t necessarily involve NCAA Tournament contingencies. With Northwestern, where fans live through a prism of tourney ignominy, it’s the only thing that matters.
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