October 17, 2008

Basketball kicks into gear with Maroon Madness

Friday night marks one of my favorite days of the collegiate athletic calendar, Midnight Madness. It's the day where college basketball practice opens just weeks from the start of my favorite season. Buzzer beaters, crazy crowds, dunks and passes that make your jaw hit the floor. And it's all just around the corner.

All the BCS buzz that stinks up college football goes right out the window on the hardwood. In this sport, the champion is determined on the court in the best three weeks of sports. Don't think so? Go to Vegas, pick a sports book and sit down (if you can find a seat 24 hours in advance, stay up all night and hope no one bigger comes along to steal it) and watch the first and second round of the tournament and tell me this isn't sports utopia.

Or better yet, go to a NCAA tournament location and watch every game with fans pulling for their team and crying just as many tears if that team fails to advance. It's all the pageantry and tradition of college football rolled into one gym with four or eight different teams depending on the round.

And Texas A&M is starting to understand more and more what the tournament is all about. The Aggies have been three consecutive years and have made it to at least the second round each time. They are one of 23 programs that have made the NCAA tournament for three consecutive seasons, but teams such as Belmont, Oral Roberts, Xavier and Winthrop have done it by dominating one-big leagues.

At first glimpse, the 2008-09 Aggies look like a team that is in a rebuilding mode after losing Dominique Kirk and Joseph Jones, both staples of the resurgence in Aggieland. But rebuilding isn't the right word for this bunch of Aggies. In fact, it couldn't be any more wrong.

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