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Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Northwestern and Baylor: Um, what?

By Eamonn Brennan

Here are some things that have happened on college basketball courts in the past 11 days:
I mean ... what?

OK, so college basketball teams comprise 18-to-22-year-old kids, and people that age do weird things. They go hot and cold. They struggle and then break through and then immediately regress. Maybe the travel gets to them. Maybe it's the opposing crowd. Or maybe they just don't shoot the ball well one night, or maybe it's just the matchups. Basketball is a game of matchups. That's what they say.

Nonetheless, the above results still boggle the mind. How can Baylor win at Kentucky but lose to Charleston? How can Charleston win at Baylor and go down by 42 to an offense-challenge Louisville in its own building? How can Northwestern get crushed by Maryland, and lose to UIC (which, to be fair, is suddenly looking ... not terrible?) on its own very purple floor, but then turn around and go to Waco, Texas, and come out with a win, one in which it led by double digits for most of the second half?

It might have a lot to do with NU and BU specifically, two teams with a lot of new key contributors, neither of which teams are particularly great on defense -- basically, both Scott Drew's and Bill Carmody's squads are still figuring things out. Maybe Baylor let its Kentucky-brickfest-assisted win in Rupp Arena go to its head.

Or maybe it's all just the glorious randomness of college basketball. I'm leaning that way.

I do know this: When we look at the NCAA tournament bubble in February and March, we always notice a few random results in November and December. We say, "Wow, how did Team X lose to Team Y?! Ha! They just beat Team Z, and Team Y is terrible!" Usually those comments are made about games that happen months apart. When we look back in March of 2013 at Baylor and Northwestern, we'll have plenty of head-scratchers to mull over. But these all happened in the matter of 11 days.

Your guess is as good as mine.