We just enjoyed the greatest opening weekend in NCAA Tournament history, jam-packed with numerous upsets and thrilling buzzer-beaters.
Rock Choke Jayhawk and the Big Least bled all over America's brackets, and unfortunately Pitt once again suffered its annual March meltdown.
A bunch of big boys were sent home from the Big Dance early by teams that never get much recognition but clearly are every bit as good as the powerhouse programs we see on TV every night.
A tad more than 40 percent of Americans picked Kansas to win the national title in their brackets, yet the tourney's overall No. 1 seed didn't even reach the Sweet 16.
How did Northern Iowa beat the Jayhawks? And how did the Big East get so humiliated, with six of its eight representatives being bounced already by the likes of St. Mary's, Ohio and Xavier?
Three reasons for all the upsets:
1. College basketball is nowhere near the same sport it was just 10 years ago because so many outstanding players stay for only a season or two or skip college altogether. Elite programs are left to rely on younger players, while mid-majors have the advantage of experienced upperclassmen.
2. The talent gap has narrowed, because of No. 1, to a remarkably thin measure between top-five and top-100 teams. As Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said Sunday, "If you don't play well, whoever it is you're playing can beat you." That's especially true if the high-profile team lets the lesser-known opponent get off to a good start and build confidence, like Northern Iowa did against Kansas.
3. The 3-pointer. It is without question the greatest equalizer in all of sports.
We're rapidly approaching the point in the landscape of college basketball where the upsets we saw this weekend no longer will be considered "stunning" or "shocking."
Also not stunning or shocking is what happened to Pitt. The Panthers continued their decade of regular-season dominance and postseason flameouts with yet another early exit (to Xavier).
Go ahead and use the excuse, Pitt fans. Not much was expected from the team, so the accomplishments this year were great.
They surely were.
But when will the excuses ever end? When will Pitt fans realize that in big-time college hoops YOU ARE JUDGED ON WHAT YOU DO IN MARCH?
The Panthers tied for second in the Big East, were a No. 3 seed and beat both Syracuse and West Virginia, two teams that are still alive. Pitt is a national power, and no national power should ever be satisfied with a season that ends so early, regardless of how low expectations were four months ago.
Jamie Dixon gets more out of his players than any coach in the country during the regular season, but Pitt's consistent flops in the NCAA Tournament are a huge blemish on his resume.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.