March Madness moments: 14-seeded Northwestern State’s upset win over third seeded Iowa in 2006

A 12-seeded team pulling off an upset is no rarity in the NCAA tournament,. The same can be said in regards to a 13-seed as well.

But when a 14-seed pulls one off, it is worthy of a front page headline.

That is what 14-seeded Northwestern State garnered after beating third seeded Iowa in the round of 64 in 2006.

It was not just that the Demons beat the Hawkeyes. It was how they beat them.

Northwestern State could only be so lucky as few were in attendance at the Palace of Auburn Hills to see how bad it played to start the game. Iowa scored the first basket of the game from beyond the arc after it broke the full court press and then it was on its way to taking an 18-4 lead, 8:16 into the game.

But the Demons were not about to back down as they had won 26 games in the 2005-06 season, including 15 of 16 games in the Southland Conference.

What better way to start to claw back than with Keenan Jones corralling an offensive rebound and putting it in to start a 17-2 run, which was more like a 10 minute slog, giving them a 21-20 lead with 2:50 left in the first half.

All the work seemed for not though. Just as easily as Northwestern State made it a game, the Hawkeyes blew them out of the water again, scoring 26 of the first 39 points in the second half to take a 54-37 lead 8:29 left in the second half.

Iowa was not about to let them back in like it did the first time if it had anything to do about it. But it could only hope the deficit was steep enough as the Demons slowly, but surely, cut it into it.

Northwestern State’s Jermaine Wallace had the ball in his hands with one second left and the Hawkeyes leading by two.

It was thanks to his teammate, Clifton Lee, that he was in the possession to hit a game-winner. Lee scored 16 points in the last 10 minutes of the game.

Wallace did finish the job, falling backward as he hit a game winning 3 .to win the game, 64-63.


March Madness Moments: The top near-upsets in NCAA tourney history

The NCAA tournament is often known for the glorious upsets pulled off by the underdogs.

But the near-upsets can be just as worthy of a highlight reel of great NCAA tournament moments when it comes to Princeton coming close to becoming the first 16-seeded to beat a one-seed in 1989, Ball State giving an unbeatable UNLV team all it could handle in 1990, Davidson coming close to advancing to the Final Four in 2008 and Butler nearly winning the 2010 national championship.

Round of 62(1989): 16-seeded Princeton vs. one-seeded Georgetown

It is 2014 and college basketball fans have yet to see a 16 seed beat a one seed. Princeton, known for its upset over UCLA in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament, was the closest to being the first.

In fact, one can say the heavy underdog choked. Georgetown played horribly from the get go as it was called for traveling on its first possession and turned it over on the second one.

Princeton was up by eight points, 22-14, after Matt Lapin hit a corner three in the first half. Right out of the second, Tigers guard Jerome Doyle made a cut toward the basket and gave his team a 31-21 lead.

The announcers pointed out that the Tigers would not be able to whittle time off the clock as well as they have in previous years because the shot clock was implemented four seasons before. But they still used every second of the 45 second shot clock, moving the ball around.

When Georgetown battled back, the Tigers did not back down as the teams traded leads down the stretch. Doyle gave them the lead, 49-47, on a layup causing the crowd to erupt with about two minutes to go.

But it was not enough, thanks to Georgetown behemoth Alonzo Mourning who hit one of two free throws to give his team the lead and delivered two blocks at the other end for the 50-49 win.

Sweet 16(1990): 12-seeded Ball State vs. one-seeded UNLV

UVLV was a dominate force in the early 1990s and no year more so than the 1990 season that was capped by a thumping of Duke, 103-73, in the national championship.

But it appeared the one-seeded team might at least get a run for its money against 12-seeded Ball State of all teams as the game came down to the last play.

The Rebels were known for their athleticism. But Ball State’s Chandler Thompson was the one who opened the fans eyes with his, coming out of nowhere and putting back a shot with a thunderous dunk.

Epitomizing the first half, UNLV answered with a 3 to take a 34-28 lead as the crowd was still buzzing about the play before.

It appeared it was just one of those games where the favorite was not cooperating as the underdog played the best game of their life. The score was 68-59, UNLV, with two minutes left.

Then, Thompson hit a 3 and another was madeon the next possession, bringing the score to 68-65.

The Cardinals grabbed the ball with 16 seconds left after Greg Anthony missed the front end of a one and one with 17 seconds left.

Ball State called a timeout with 12.6 seconds left. A pass was lofted to the post, but intercepted and the game was over.

Elite Eight(2008): 10-seeded Davidson vs. One-seeded Kansas

Like Princeton and UNLV, Davidson was only one play from pulling off a major feat. What the Wildcats were going after was a Final Four with one more win.

Kansas, who was once led by the inventor of basketball James Naismith, stood in their way.

The Jayhawks used a stifling defense to hold a red hot Davidson team to two points in the first six minutes of the game. But at the same time, Kansas was not showing their superiority on the offensive side.

So Curry eventually took advantage, giving his team a 12-9 lead with a three pointer midway through the first half after missing his first five shots. The headliner of the show was back to his old self, accounting for the next seven points Davidson scored to give his team a 19-16 lead.

Curry earned his 20th point with an NBA 3 to give his team a 33-30 lead, one and a half minutes into the second half.

The teams each sustained long runs with Kansas using a 13-4 to take a 43-37 lead and Davidson going on a 12-2 run to take a 49-45 lead at the midway point in the second half.

The last by Kansas, a 12-2 run, giving it a 59-53 lead with 1:15 left, was enough for the win. Just enough.

Davidson had the ball in its hands with 19 seconds left, down 59-57 before Jason Richards chucked a shot from way beyond the three point line that was off target, resulting in a 59-57 loss for the Jayhawks.

National championship game(2010): Five-seeded Butler vs. one seed Duke

There is hardly a better story from March Madness than Butler’s journey to the 2010 national championship game.

To cap it off, the Bulldogs played well-known power Duke and at Indianapolis, of all places.

The ending nearly was storybook in the most extreme fashion as Gordon Hayward lofted a shot at half-court before the buzzer sounded that went off the backboard and then the rim without going in the net.

Few may have believed Butler would even be that close to winning the national championship game, including those asked three minutes into the national championship game

The first field goal for the Bulldogs came 3:18 into it when Shelvin Mack made a 3, cutting the deficit to 6-4. Butler’s Zach Hahn hit an NBA-range three pointer to give it a 12-11 lead. The Bulldogs were down at the break, 33-32.

Mack easily made a layup off the glass, four minutes into the second half, to give Butler a 4o-38 lead and viewers knew they were going to witness a battle to finish.

The Blue Devils did take the lead back a minute and a half later and held onto it, but Butler was always within striking distance. Mack found Matt Howard wide open under the basket, to bring the deficit within one with 54 seconds left.

Although, the half-court shot looked as good as a shot from that range could look, the Bulldogs had an even better look, down one, on their previous possession. But Hayward’s fadaway shot from five foot away by the baseline hit the side of the rim and was corralled by Duke.

NCAA basketball tournament losses by Kansas among most remembered


Kansas has a lot of wins in the NCAA tournament. The number is 95 for those who are counting. Surely, with them have come many moments for the team’s fans to remember.

But its losses are what the rest of the college basketball world remembers most; especially the ones over the last nine years.

The biggest beneficiaries of them are players like Trey Burke and Ali Farokhmanesh and schools such as Bucknell and Bradley.

The 2005 Bison team and the 2006 Braves were seeded 14th and 13th respectively when they defeated the Jayhawks. They could say all who were watching, except Jayhawks fans, were rooting them on.

There is no upset in March Madness that gathers more interest than one where the name brand team is the favorite. What better brand is there in college basketball than Kansas? It is a school all fair weather college basketball fans that arrive in March know about.

Everyone should have seen the upset of the 2005 Kansas team coming as the team had started by winning 19 of its first 20 games before losing five of its last nine games. Bucknell had also beat a power conference team that made it into the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh.

But it was still not a 12-seed, often where upset minded teams come from.

The first sign the Jayhawks showed they were going to aid in their opponent’s upset bid was when a three pointer, the first basket for the Bison, turned into four points because the shooter was fouled.

The gift trimmed Bucknell’s deficit to one point. Surprisingly, Bucknell later amassed a large lead not because of Kansas’ miscues, but its own skills and effort.

On its way to taking a 22-14 lead, it had a putback, fadaway and a behind the back pass that led to a dunk.

While Kansas took a 31-28 lead into the half, Bucknell did not whimper. In fact, the Bison held the lead for the better part of the last 14 minutes of the game, making it all the more devastating if they would have lost.

They almost did lose on an inbounds play that was identical to Christian Laettner’s buzzer beating shot against Kentucky in 1992.

Kansas’ Wayne Simien, who had 24 points, caught a full court pass at the free throw line, but missed a turnaround jumper with the ball hitting the front of the rim.

2006: Four-seeded Kansas’ loss to 13-seeded Bradley in road of 64

Does lightning strike the same place twice? Or rather, can a huge favorite be upset in two consecutive years in the round of 64? The answer for Kansas to the latter is yes.

While the first time the Jaywawks were primed to be upset, Kansas was the last team that should have been predicted to be upset in 2006. The Jayhawks won 15 of their last 16 games and must have had the previous season’s early exit on their minds.

But after 15 straight NCAA tournaments of advancing to the round of 32, they were defeated again by a low seed in No. 13 Bradley.

The Braves, unafraid, went right at Kansas, taking a 13-6 lead with a three pointer from Marcellus Sommerville at the top of the arc, 6:40 into the game.

To put salt on the wound, Bradley added a buzzer beating 3 from beyond even NBA range to give them a 37-27 lead at the break.

The Braves might have just been a really good team. It did not give up the lead the entire second half, winning 77-73. It led in its game against Pittsburgh for nearly the entire game to advance to the Sweet 16 with s 72-66 victory.

A Bill Self-led Kansas team finally put all its demons in the rearview mirror in 2008, Ironically most college basketball were behind the team when they came back to win the 2008 national championship by beating Memphis, led by its much hated head coach John Calipari.

Afterwards, it was in for more memorable losses that are stored away in March Madness lore.

2010: One-seeded Kansas’ loss to nine-seeded Northern Iowa in the round of 32

Some would have taken Kansas against the field in the 2010 NCAA tournament. But Northern Iowa got in its way in the round of 32.

In its upset losses, Kansas did not have a game stolen away from it. Rather, it drew the best of the underdogs. The Panthers were no different.

UNI’s Jordan Eglseder used something of a set shot, though ugly, from the three point line to account for the first basket in a 10-2 run in the first two and a half minutes of the game.

Eglseder’s make was his second three pointer of the season and amounted to the last lead change of the game.

Northern Iowa’s Ali Farokhmanesh took it from there with three pointers galore and he also had a sweet around the back pass.

Everyone remembers his play with 35 seconds left in the game, With the Panthers up 63-62 and seven seconds between the game clock and shot clock, he swished a three pointer instead of running down the clock, leading to a 69-67 win for his team.

2013: One-seeded Kansas gives up big lead and loses to four-seeded Michigan in Sweet 16

Only three years later, Michigan’s Trey Burke would have a 3 of his own against Kansas at the end of the game. It was well way beyond the arc to tie it after being down 10 with two and a half minutes left in the second half. The Jayhawks lost in overtime, 87-85.

As the NCAA Tournament is only a day way, one cannot help but think that another memorable loss is due for a young Kansas team, bringing joy to college basketball fans. But at least the supposed bad guy keeps returning to the biggest stage, making the Jayhawks a Jack Nicholson of college basketball.

March Madness Moments: 13-seeded Valparaiso upset over four-seeded Ole Miss in 1998

It is difficult to put a finger on exactly what is the reasoning. But there are two games that stand for what the first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA tournament are all about better than others.

One is Princeton’s upset over UCLA in 1996. The other, which I will be covering, is 13-seeded Valparaiso’s win over four seeded Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tournament.

There was hardly any in attendance to watch the game between the Crusaders and Rebels at the start. But March Madness is a TV event more than anything.

What a sight it was on the television screen to see the Crusaders defeat the Rebels, 70-69, in the way they did, on a last second game winning three pointer by Bryce Drew.

But Drew did more than hit the game winner; He also delivered nice passes through the stifling Ole Miss defense and used a plethora of ways to score, including a leaner, floater, and a turnaround jumper.

Interestingly, Valpo looked uninspired to start though, while Ole Miss was ready to play, hitting four three pointers.

The Crusaders were down by six points, 17-11, after a corner 3 by Joezon Darby, which left the net tangled, at the midpoint of the first half.

Finally, Valpo began to awaken. A moment that showed their awakening better than any other was when the Rebels fell asleep with Antanas Vilcinskas making a basket off an in-bounds pass as the shot clock hit zero to narrow the deficit to three.

While they were down, 38-34, at the half, Drew capped the first 20 minutes of play with a two pointer at the buzzer on a turnaround jumper.

Valpo continued to pour it on at the start of the second half with Drew knocking down a three pointer to give his team a 39-38 lead.

Drew really put his team on his back. He made a 3 from the top of the arc with a man in his face to give the Crusaders a four point lead, with about seven and a half minutes left.

Valpo’s was up by as many as five points before Ole Miss took it back, 68-67, making two free throws with two and a half minutes left in the second half.

While everyone remembers the last offensive possession of the game by the Crusaders, some forget Ole Miss had the ball in its hands with 4.1 seconds left after it grabbed the rebound, up 69-67.

But not one, but two free throws were missed, giving Valpo the ball with 2.5 seconds left after it went off the hands of an Ole Miss player and out of bounds.

Then, the play ingrained into the memory of so many college basketball fans ensued. Without the astronaut.

Bob Jenkins, all at the same time, caught the in-bounds pass and threw it to Drew who sank the 3 at the buzzer to win, 70-69.

The Crusaders actually made it to the Sweet 16 in 1998, beating Florida State. But then, they lost to Rhode Island, of all teams.

The NCAA tournament wins during the unforgettable season remain to be only ones to this day for Valpo.

March Madness moments: 13-seeded Princeton’s win over four-seeded UCLA in 1996

For some schools, there is just one moment. One moment that exceeds all others in its athletic history by a mile.

Princeton is one of those schools. Who could forget its 43-41 upset win over fourth-seeded UCLA as a 13-seed in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament?

Both schools are powers in their own way.

The Bruins are college basketball. But the academic prowess in regards to the Tigers was going to give it no edge on the basketball court. After the first five minutes of play, one could confirm that fact.

That is what made it a Cinderella Story as it did not cut immediately to when the slipper is found and returned to the hated sister.

What must first be shown first is bricks shot, free throws missed and points given up right off the bat.

UCLA, the defending national champion, began like a team that had been in the NCAA tournament before with Toby Bailey knocking down a three pointer on UCLA’s way to a 7-0 lead to start the game.

The quick lead was a recipe for disaster for Princeton as it takes until the end of the shot clock to shoot.

The Tigers needed about five minutes before they made their first basket, a shot from beyond the arc by Chris Doyal and another came shortly after to bring the deficit within one point.

It was far from an indication that the Tigers were ready to battle though as the Bruins scored four unanswered points and cameras showed head coach John Carroll furious on the sideline.

Princeton was down 16-9 with six and a half minutes left in the first half when Mitch Henderson hit his second three pointer of the game. Steve Goodrich, on the next possession, was able to get the first points inside the arc on a layup and soon the game was tied at 16.

The crowd began to get into the game. The score remained tied at 16 for what felt like hours. While the Tigers were down 19-18 at halftime, it held the Bruins to its lowest output in a half for the season.

The crowd erupted again when Goodrich posted up and scored, gaving his team a 20-19 lead, the first time the Tigers had the lead.

It was not Princeton’s to keep though. In fact, its deficit stretched to seven after a 12-3 run by UCLA, putting the team down 41-34. It seemed after a long lull, UCLA was finely ready to play.

But so were the Tigers who were not playing their greatest game, either. Princeton’s Sydney Johnson narrowed the deficit to four with his ugly push shot from well beyond the top of the arc.

Doyle began a possession with a steal and then it was finished by who else but Johnson for the transition layup to tie it at 41 with less than three minutes remaining in the game. The bench was in all its joy hopping up and down.

With 30 seconds left, Princeton had the ball in its hands. The Tigers used a backdoor cut with a layup from Gabe Lewullis with 2.2 seconds left for the 43-41 win.

The Princeton players were so nervous on the bench, they were silly, before the last defensive stop. A player was bent over, while another was tapping him on the back like he was playing the drums.

But Carroll could not stop smiling when UCLA missed a basket. The game was over. The Tigers had won, etching a well-known moment in their history.

Perennial powers Duke and Syracuse face off for the first time since 1998

Duke and Syracuse are titans in college

When one thinks of teams at that level of the sport, they are among the first noted.

So one would think they have faced off many times and produced classics that are among the best college basketball fans have ever seen.


The last time the schools met was in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 1998 in a game Duke won 80-67.

From then on, the series record in the matchup has been locked in at 2-2 as they have not met since.

But a team is about to capture the lead in the series as the Orange take on the Blue Devils for the first time as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

The Syracuse athletic department announced there will be a record crowd of 35,446 at the Carrier Dome to view the first matchup between the teams in this millennium.

The coaches on the benches will get as much attention as the players on the court and it is deservedly so.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim, the coach of the Orange, place first and second respectively in all-time wins by a head coach. They have combined to accumulate 1,914 with Krzyzewski in front with 974, 34 more than his counterpart.

It would still be a disservice to not speak about the players.

It is an interesting dichotomy with the best one on each side being on opposite ends of the spectrum.

On one side, there is Syracuse forward C.J. Fair, who did not average double figures in points until he was an upperclassman. The senior now leads the team with 16.7 points per game.

Duke forward Jabari Parker obviously needs little introduction. The freshman is leading his team with 18.8 points per game.

While one cannot help but be enthused about Saturday’s matchup, college basketball also benefits at a much greater level because it will not be another 16 years before they meet again.

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Notre Dame adding buildings on three sides of its football stadium

A look at what Notre Dame Stadium will look like after  contruction

A photo of Notre Dame Stadium in its present state.

A look at what Notre Dame Stadium will look like after construction. Source:
A look at what Notre Dame Stadium will look like after construction. Source:

Nothing can match Notre Dame Stadium in simplicity.

When looking down upon the home of the Fighting Irish’s football team through the eyes of Touchdown Jesus, one will find a bowl shaped stadium with a tiny press box protruding inward from the west side.

But it was announced on Wednesday that there will be additions to the stadium, which will cause it to lose its simple design.

There will be a building on each side of it, but one – the north side where Touchdown Jesus reigns.

The press release states that the construction will start no later than two years from now and the process of constructing the building will take about 33 months.

The buildings, which will cost $400 million to construct, will serve multiple purposes.

The west building, for example, will have a career services center and recreational sports and fitness facilities. The east building will be partly for the working press and the south building will possess the Department of Music offices, practice rooms and storage.

There is no doubt people who will take in a game will be in for a surprise when construction starts and the structures rise up.

I have seen it first hand as I have made many visits to Michigan Stadium before they added the boxes on each side of the stadium and after.

Now, it has the feeling best described as the cocoon effect, meaning that it feels like you are in a movie theater where there is nothing beyond the walls in the darkness. Whereas before the additions to the “Big House,” you could see much beyond the stadium.

Moreover, there was still no complaints from me because it still served its main purpose, housing things familiar, like the tradition of touching the banner and seeing the same ol’ winged helmets.

For fans of the Fighting Irish, the same will ring true. They will be homed in on the glistening gold helmets or the mascot doing pushups after touchdowns, instead of the surrounding infrastructure, aside from Touchdown Jesus whose view is still unobstructed.

Snow-filled stadiums in the south

On the subject of stadiums, those on Twitter posted wonderful photos of snow-filled stadiums in the sourth.

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Bo Schembechler’s first bowl win as Michigan’s head coach

boThe bowl season of college football is long gone and college basketball is upon us.

Yet, I want to revert to the former for one last time.

The reason is because the joy from the victory I am going to cover was most likely felt up until this day of the month in late January of 1981.

What I am speaking of is the late Bo Schembechler’s first bowl win as Michigan’s head coach.

The coach, ingrained into college football lore, had made seven trips to bowl games from 1970 to 1980 as the general of Michigan and lost every one.

What must have made the losses most excruciating was five of them came in the Rose Bowl, the “Granddaddy of Them All.”

He would return there on Jan. 1, 1981 as his team, which was 9-2, played a 9-2 Washington team.

Before the game, NBC commentator Merlin Olsen said Michigan’s defense was among the things that impressed him.

“In the last 18 quarters of the season, they only allowed three points,” he said. “And Bo will tell you that they’re here today because of their defense.”

It did not look like anything special until it fed off the pressure of being in its own territory.

Washington moved the ball with ease on its second drive, getting inside the Wolverines’ 10-yard line.

The Huskies’ backs were pushed against the wall though as it failed to punch it into the end zone in three plays. On fourth and goal, they sent their running back airborne at the goal line and he was stopped a hair short of the end zone.

It must have been the kind of defensive play that the Michigan defense made throughout the season at the start of the game as it allowed 10 total points in the first quarter in 11 games, according to the NBC broadcast.

The only problem for the Wolverines is it struggled in other facets of the game in the first half.

Michigan succumbed to three and outs on its first two drives. Washington’s defense showed it could deliver a punch in the mouth with a nice hit on its second play of the game.

The special teams for the Wolverines were not doing Michigan any favors, either. On a punt return that started with Ray Horton fumbling the ball, he got it together, squeezed through a hole and made it to Michigan’s 35.

It resulted in the first points of the game with a field goal in the second quarter. The Huskies would add another at the end of the first half. It seemed the points scored by Washington were motivation for Michigan to start moving the ball.

Its offense called a timely halfback draw on third down for Butch Woolfolk, who ran 24 yards to Washington’s 30. He finished out the drive with a six yard touchdown run in the I formation, giving Michigan a 7-3 lead in the second quarter.

The score was 7-6, Michigan, at the half, despite the fact that the Huskies had double the number of offensive yards with 269 compared to 133 for Michigan.

Michigan extended its lead to 10-6 on the first drive of the third quarter.

Receiver Anthony Carter, who brought his team within field goal range in the previous scoring drive on a pass play, was instrumental in another scoring drive as well, catching a pass over the middle in the end zone to give his team an 11-point lead.

The teams went into a stalemate from that point on, aside from a drive that yielded six points for Michigan in the fourth quarter.

Schembechler’s Wolverines won in a fashion that had his philosophy written all over it with an excellent effort out of the run game and on defense, giving him his first bowl win as Michigan’s head coach with a score of 23-6.

He was hoisted on the shoulders of his players and he gloriously lifted his fists into the air in excitement.

“We’ve had a lot of great success in the Michigan football program,” Schembechler told NBC after the game. “But we never won this game since I’ve been here and it’s one of the greatest thrills of my life.”

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College basketball: Rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State on the brink of being a great one

MMichigan and Michigan State fans never believed more than one college basketball team in the state could thrive at the same time.

What transpired in previous decades on the court in the past gave credence to their opinion.

Until now.

MichiganStateSpartans The rivals are both undefeated in the Big Ten and are about to collide at the Breslin Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday in what is always a physical game.

It is the first time the teams have faced off with unblemished conference records of 6-0 or better, according to STATS.

They are separated from the rest of the Big Ten by a large margin as Iowa, which holds the third best Big Ten record, has two losses, while the rest have at least three.

There has always been the question about if the matchup could inch closer in popularity to the biggest rivalry in college basketball between Duke and North Carolina.

The answer is, obviously, yes, if they do what few believed could be done, which is overlapping success for both schools over a long period of time.

It is a goal finally attainable because it appears Michigan is John Beilein’s last stop and Spartans head coach Tom Izzo declined the only offer that would warrant his interest – a job in the NBA working under Michigan State alum Dan Gilbert.

There is no better glimpse into the future of the rivalry than the last matchup between the teams in Ann Arbor in March.

The stakes were high as ever in the rivalry because both teams were ranked in the top 10. The Spartans could not have asked to be in a better situation at the end of the game.

They had the ball with a half-minute left, the shot clock turned off and the score tied at 56. In layman’s terms: Michigan State’s was setup to win in regulation or go to overtime on the road against its rival, which was the No. 4 team in the country.

But Michigan’s Trey Burke had other ideas and point guard Michigan State’s Keith Appling made a mistake a college kid would be expected to make once in a while from losing his focus.

So, Burke picked Appling’s pocket when he was casually dribbling up the floor and threw the ball into the basket with a two handed slam, enough for a 58-57 win for the Wolverines.

It must have left college basketball fans wanting more. Why else would ESPN College Gameday be stopping by East Lansing on Saturday?

It is a rare point in time when a fantastic game is the expectation. The teams will have to deliver, transforming a pretty good rivalry into a great one.

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College basketball: Cal’s all-time record versus USC is 131-130 entering tonight’s matchup

USCCalThere has been a lot of talk about the rivalry between UCLA and USC in college basketball as both schools, located in the Los Angeles area, have new coaches that bring attention.

But there is another matchup of teams in California that folks need to pay more attention to and that is California versus USC.

The teams have faced off 261 times in their history and the Golden Bears only hold a one game advantage with a 131-130 record against the Trojans.

The series dates back to the 1916-17 season when Cal won both matchups by a combined score of 69-33.

The score in tonight’s matchup between the teams should exceed that, since the Golden Bears are averaging 76.7 points per game, while USC is averaging 71.6.

Even though the Trojans will play at home, no one expects them to tie the series record at 131.

They are in a rebuilding stage with head coach Andy Enfield in his first season and Cal is on its way up, heading toward its third-straight NCAA tournament appearance with a 14-4 overall record and a 5-0 conference record.

The last four games between the teams have all gone to the Golden Bears with their guard Allen Crabbe leading the way, averaging 20 points in their four wins.

He moved on and is playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, but now Cal spreads the wealth in scoring with five players averaging double figures in points scored per game.

USC, on the other hand, seems to rely on one player, Byron Wesley, who is averaging 16.5 points per game, 6.1 more than the team’s second leading scorer.

There is just no reason to believe USC will win tonight. It is on the bottom of the Pac-12 standings with an 0-5 record, while Cal is at the top of the standings.

But in a matchup that few want to call a rivalry, something that makes rivalries special, the overwhelming underdog winning, might turn it into one if USC won.