It's that time of year when we turn our attention from our alma mater's struggling football team (despite the nice win last weekend over K-State) to the hardwood floors. College basketball season is officially upon us with last night's start of the Coaches vs. Cancer classic. In the first game of the season, those pesky Richmond Spiders downed Maine in a 44-42 shootout. Their reward? A matchup with #3 Memphis. I wish I got ESPNU. It seems like there hasn't been nearly as much college basketball on TV since ESPN signed a deal with the NBA.
My Iowa State Cyclones start their official season this Friday (they've already won two exhibition games, destroying the University of Dubuque and sneaking by the EA All-Stars) with their own Cyclone Challenge, in which they invite three of the worst teams in the nation to Ames in order to pick on them. This year the opposition consists of Winston-Salem State (a 2nd year Division I program), Centenary, and Lipscomb. They ranked 304, 294, and 179 respectively in last year's RPI ratings (out of 336 schools).
Going to Hilton Coliseum with my friends is one of the things I miss most about college, especially the Cyclone Challenge. We used to go to the early games that didn't involve Iowa State and pick a random team to root for. Traditionally, less than 100 people show up for those games as they're during dinner and no one cares about the teams, so we found that if you're really loud you can make a real impact on the game.
One year we made signs for a bunch of SW Texas State players (mine ended up becoming an Indiana Pacer). Another year, the North Texas coaching staff offered us free beer if we could cheer them on to victory (they lost). Other times, teams would go from hearing our cheers one day to our derisive jeers the next when they faced off against the Cyclones (Boney Watson, anyone?) If I were there this year, I think we'd definitely have to pick Centenary. Gentlemen beat anyone who thinks that the correct pluralization of Bison is Bisons any day.