There’s not a lot I fear in life, mostly because everything I have reason to be afraid of can be categorized as either (1) unknown or (2) inevitable. If the former, then I’m pretty good about just not thinking about it. If the latter, then I can’t help but think about it but am usually able to convert my worry/anxiety into something constructive. Sometimes, though, I am overcome by a fear I can’t shake.
I am compelled to admit that I fretted about our men’s basketball team travelling to Kansas to take on the No. 7 Jayhawks. It was arguably the biggest challenge yet this season for the 17-0 Bears, who until last night were one of only three undefeated NCAA-I men’s basketball teams. Sure, KU’s 14-3 record wasn’t exactly daunting, but the reigning Big 12 Champions did not look like the same team that had suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands (paws?) of the unranked Davidson Wildcats last month.
Just ask Iowa State. In Lawrence on Sunday, the Jayhawks overcame a 12-point deficit in the second half to beat the Cyclones 82-73. Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor led the way with a career-high 28 points. It was Kansas’s 15th straight victory at home.
The Jayhawks have now extended their home-game winning streak to sixteen. They handed my beloved Bears their first loss of the season and now sit alone on their perch atop the Big 12. (None of their three losses were conference losses.)
Baylor's defeat means that only No. 1 Syracuse and 12th-ranked Murray State remain undefeated this season. Coach Jim Boeheim, recently the subject of some negative press following the revelation of another sex abuse scandal involving an NCAA coach, racked up his 876th career win last night with a 71-63 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers, who had bested the Orange in the teams' previous five meetings. Syracuse's 20-0 start is unprecedented in the team's 111-year history, and Boeheim is now tied with the late, great Adolph Rupp of Kentucky for fourth place all-time in Division I. The Racers, meanwhile, managed to cope with the loss of its leading rebounder (to a broken hand) just fine, handling Tennessee Tech on Saturday for their 18th win in a row. Tomorrow night they get to host the 9-10 Morehead State Eagles, whom they defeated, 70-62, the last time the two did battle.
Can either team finish the regular season undefeated? (The last NCAA-I men's team to do so was UNLV under legendary Coach Jerry Tarkanian.) If so, then will either make it all the way to the championship, something none of their peers have accomplished since 1976, when the Indiana Hoosiers went 32-0 under temperamental head coach Bobby Knight? Frankly, I don't care all that much. What matters to me, now that the Baylor men have lost, is whether the Lady Bears can go the distance. Not only are they ranked No. 1 in the nation, no other team received any first-place votes in either the AP or USA Today/ESPN polls this week...or last week...or the week before that. Okay, I'm pretty sure they're been alone at the top for over a month now. Maybe two months. The point is, we've got two kick-ass basketball teams, and the women are 17-0 with only six games left in the regular season. Also, the men can enjoy being ranked 3rd in both major polls for a whole week, thanks to Florida State's shocking upset of then-No. 3 North Carolina this weekend.