Nobody wants to be a loser, but in Division I college basketball, only one team can finish their season with a win.
Having said that, that NCAA Tournament loss really stings for each of the 67 teams that experience it every year. I should know — I’ve been in the building to witness Florida State’s elimination in each of the last three tournaments.
Once in the first round (2010), once in the second round (yesterday) and once in the third round (2011). I have myself a nice little collection going.
Despite the 62-56 loss to Cincinnati last night, there’s a lot of reasons why FSU fans should hold their heads high. For evidence, I’d start by pointing to January 7.
That was the day that I just assumed the Seminoles were hopeless and listless, because I was driving home from Clemson with a few friends after their 79-59 loss to the Tigers. I didn’t have a lot of pride in what I saw that day.
But since then, our team gave us every reason to be proud of them. They’ve broken records, won big games that every expert said they had no business winning and won a conference that everyone said couldn’t be won by anyone but Duke and North Carolina.
So what’s so bad about going 1-1 in the NCAA Tournament?
Nothing — especially when you consider the team that knocked them out. Cincinnati is a damn good team with a damn good coach, and they have a very good chance to advance to the Final Four if they play the way they did last night.
What I saw from the Bearcats really impressed me. I haven’t seen a defense shut down FSU’s big men since VCU did it in the tournament last year. And for all the hype VCU head coach Shaka Smart gets for his “Havoc” defense, Cincy head coach Mick Cronin has built a ferocious defense that Bearcat fans should be proud of.
Of course, FSU fans were confused last night. This was a team that seemed destined for a deep run in the tournament, so why did they bow out in the second round? Why are teams like Xavier, Ohio and Florida playing on to the Sweet 16, while we’re eliminated?
To that I say: we couldn’t all play the likes of Lehigh and Norfolk State in the second round. Some of us actually had to play real teams — a really good team, that was probably underseeded, if anything.
So keep your heads up, Florida State fans. Yesterday was an awful reminder that life isn’t fair, but last weekend can never be taken away from us.
ACC Champs, for a whole year. Your turn, FSU Baseball.