- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Question of the Day is a new feature here at the blog, wherein yours truly answers one especially thoughtful question, Twitter response, blog comment, email or any other form of written communication designed to elicit (hopefully) intelligent discussion. Think of it like Quora, or a mini mailbag or Reddit AMA, albeit with fewer questions about horse-sized ducks.
Today's question comes from @ThatPipkensGuy, who writes: "Can Charlotte walk away from Miami with a moral victory? Michigan State lost there. Would any loss invalidate the 49ers hot start?"
First of all, now that Charlotte is 9-0 and off to arguably the most pleasantly surprising start of any team in the country not named Illinois, let's give a shout out to @ThatPipkensGuy. In my three years at ESPN, there has not been a more consistently vocal fan of a team that has existed so far outside the national consciousness as @ThatPipkensGuy. He hasn't had much to tout, though that hasn't drained him of his enthusiasm. And now, finally, mercifully, he has what appears to be an actually good team to root for. Enjoy it, dude.
As to your question, let's start by saying I'm convinced by Charlotte's start. I wasn't for a while; its schedule was abysmal, and it was easy to write it off. The win at Davidson brought me around. Charlotte is defending like a top-50 team (No. 49 per KenPom.com, to be precise) primarily thanks to excellent defense against opposing shooters, and thus far that characteristic appears real. I'm in.
But I'm also able to access and use my calendar application, and it's probably important to remember that today's date is just Dec. 10. As impressive as the 49ers have been, we have a LOT of season left. As good as a win at Davidson is (and wins over Oral Roberts and East Carolina are decent, too) that plus a bunch of wins over the Georgia Southerns and Lamars of the world does not a revolution make.
Even so, in the end I would probably agree there's little Charlotte can do Friday night at Miami to really hurt its newfound reputation. The Hurricanes are a big, strong, bruising outfit, with experienced play at basically every position. It's a strength-on-strength matchup (Miami's efficient offense versus Charlotte's defense), so I'd be surprised if it was a real blowout.
That, to me, is the only way we could come away from a Charlotte loss Friday night and reverse course on our belief in the 49ers -- if Miami just comes out and destroys Charlotte, if the Canes put a Memphis-on-Ohio, Florida-at-Florida-State-and-give-me-your-lunch-money-too dump trucking on Alan Major's squad.
I don't know about you, because you ride or die for Charlotte. But that would give me some pause.