Paging Dr. McLuhan

Lately there has been a lot of talk on TNIAM about how the analysts are not giving Syracuse the credit it deserves. We have all rehashed what a "true" road win is, what defines a neutral court, and who is or is not "go-to" worthy. In the end, whatever #trollhard moves Ron, Seth or Doug pull out don't matter because the Orange are the last remaining undefeated team from a power conference and are ranked #1 (which itself doesn't matter because it doesn't automatically crown them National Champions).

But what about the other end of that analysis spectrum? Stuns! SHOCKS! UPSETS! Doesn't anyone just win anymore?

Take for example the headline this morning on ESPN's college basketball page, in reference to last night's Illinois-Penn State game -

"Penn St. survives late to stun No. 25 Illinois"

I don't follow the Big Ten. I only watch Big East and MAAC basketball, and even then I couldn't tell you a thing about half the teams in either conference. So unless a Big Ten game in on in a bar I wouldn't see it. But like many people who don't have time to consume every scrap of sports news (or political news, or any news) I would base my opinions from what I gleened by just reading that headline.

And based on this headline, I would of thought that Illinois was a once dominant team that should never have lost to Penn State because the headline tells me they were "stun(ned)." Okay, then that means Illinois is TOTALLY OVERRATED and when I go grab my $5 footlong at lunchtime with Jeb from accounting who grew up in Skokie I am going to clown his team and tell him to enjoy the NIT. (Actually there is no Jeb from accounting, or actually there might be. I am not even sure if we have an accounting department. But if there was a Jeb I would totally mock Illinois because they got STUNNED!).

That is in effect what every college basketball analyst is doing 30 times a night, every day, from November to March. There is no way that Katz, Davis, Dana, Dukie V, and certainly not Ron Morris, could really watchthat many games a night. It is just impossible for a brain to take all of that in. Sure, they could watch highlights, they could pick up 5-10 minutes of a half here and there, but they can't watch every game and develop a fully formed opinion on each one and each player every day. They just can't. Put it this way, what do you do for a living? Do you know every new development in your field on a real time basis? No, you don't. But when you are called on to perform (for example at a 45 minute group meeting with your boss, or say in a 2 minute appearance on College Basketball Tonight) you will make it up as you go along based on your general knowledge and whatever bits of information you picked up from trade journals, news sites or whatever. You would pull it off but you wouldn't be 100% right.

And that is why we are getting so upset about these little dings that Doug Gottlieb or Seth Davis give the Orange. There is no way they have watched this team as much as we have. On the flip side, there is no way we have watched Mt. Saint Mary's as much as they have. I am not saying they are right to #trollhard, and I do think they have some deeper problems with the Orange that have nothing to do with the actual team, but they can't be expert in everything all at once. I think they are getting a lot of their information from the same crappy headlines as the rest of us.

[Post-script - Illinois was ranked #25 in one poll, #23 in another, most likely because they beat Ohio State, who were a pre-season #1 pick. /hiRon. They were 15-3 in a good conference, but already had a conference loss. You could make a strong case that they probably didn't deserve a top #25 ranking, maybe even swap them for their conference mate Wisconsin as "others receiving votes." They lost by 2 points, on the road to a team that was last in the Big Ten. Was it a "shock?" If I hadn't already gone long I would say that a 2 point loss on the road to a team in your "power" conferenceisn't an upset or all that shocking. I guess reasonable minds could differ. The question isn't really if this is a shock or not. The better question is this, if Illinois didn't have an arbitrary #25 in front of their name, does the game even get a headline?

Either way, I am clowning Jeb at work.]

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