By Austin Hilliker, Sports Editor

The bone crunching hits, one-handed catches and questionable celebration dances of football season have sadly come to an end.
Watching Kam Chancellor jump—and—clear a herd of offensive lineman, not once, not twice but three times to almost block a field goal was exhilarating, but it’s time to move on. It’s basketball season.
The buzz around the sport of basketball is something Seattle sports fans have missed ever since our beloved Super Sonics were shipped off to Oklahoma.
Washington basketball fans have now split into two groups: bandwagon members of the Portland Trailblazers, or fans of the Washington Huskies or Washington State Cougars. With that said, praise to those who have stuck with college basketball.
Those of us who have chosen to stick with watching Division—I college basketball and been greatly rewarded with dramatic buzzer-beaters, acrobatic dunks and an unexplained passion by fans that fill the gym. Not to mention an unbeaten coach Calipari of the Kentucky team and even a third ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs representing the state of Washington.

Dion Waiters at Syracuse University during the 2011-12 basketball season.

The Difference Between the Two

Watching professional basketball has always seemed to miss a key element in my mind: consistent fan support. It seems the people that watch professional basketball are more “fair-weather” fans than anything else, supporting their team when they are doing well and then falling off as the team struggles.
Division—I college basketball fans seem to take an enormous amount of pride in sticking with one particular school, never following the trend of whose number one in the nation, unless it’s their team of course.
The National Basketball Association is filled with overpaid dramatic athletes. When you turn on the TV, you get more caught up in the drama of one of the players complaining than actually watching the game itself.
The athletes noticeably flop to the ground when someone of the opposing team merely touches them, making for a great acting performance and a not-so-good basketball game.
The name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name of the back of the jersey for the college basketball players that play at the highest level. It’s more about representing their school, rather than playing for themselves.

What to Watch for the Rest of Basketball Season

With March Madness less than a month away, it would be unfair for me to not give my thoughts and picks for the rest of the season and even the big dance.
Watch out for Gonzaga this year. I know last year they were kicked out in the third round, but with the new addition of forward Kyle Wiltjer, a transfer from the University of Kentucky, the odds are in favor of the Bulldogs to finish within the top five and even gain a number one seed in the tournament
My Cinderella team this year has to be none other than the University of Northern Iowa, a team playing a rather weak conference, but has the potential to make a name for itself in March.
Just like in years past, Duke University probably won’t make it to the Elite Eight due to them underestimating a small school during the tournament, thus putting a damper on Coach Krzyzewski’s 1,000th win.
Of course, the moment we’ve all been waiting for is who will win March Madness this year. Simply put, a team from Washington will take home the title.
Whether it’s the Huskies, Cougars or Bulldogs, a team from the evergreen state will win the national championship and basketball in Washington will be restored.
Remember, it’s basketball season, and when you go to turn on the TV after a long day of classes, put on college hoops, not the NBA. ◼︎

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