CNU’s favorite teams: NCAA division I basketball

Five students and one staff member explain why they support the teams they do and how each team holds a special place in their hearts

University of Maryland, Baltimore

~Morgan Barclay, Editor-in-Chief~

I’ve never been a fan of sports, but I am a fan of stories, underdog stories especially. 

It’s no wonder I did not find a basketball team until last year. 

University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s historic rise into the sweet sixteen last year had many on the edge of their seats, myself included, but more than that I connected with a game I didn’t think I could. 

Surprisingly it wasn’t the basketball that did it for me, it was something that hit a bit closer to home.

UMBC is a small liberal arts school that focuses on engineering, information technology, human services and public policy. 

Compared to other division one schools, it’s eleven hundred students seem close-knit and relatable. 

What’s more, if there was a school similar to CNU this would be the one.  

This made me directly to connect to the University. I wanted them to win and do well just as I would want CNU to win.

It also didn’t hurt that my boyfriend’s sister was an alumni and gave me direct information about the school. 

Seeming their name in headlines as the little school that could got me involved in the story. 

Seeing their chances at beating the number one spot, and getting to share in their joy when they did, made me enjoy a game that I felt was removed from me.

Watching them beat UVA changed sports for me.

UMBC made me realize that sports was more than just the game of the day. 

Sports are stories, and some stories touch your heart, like this little school that could.

Syracuse University

~Brett Clark, Staff Writer~

I have never been a huge fan of college basketball. 

I played growing up and I play intramural but college basketball has never been of great interest to me. My high school was very good at basketball though and many of my former classmates play for elite schools now, though. 

One mate I knew was Frank Howard for Syracuse. My senior year high school was his freshman year playing at Syracuse. 

I believe they were ranked 8th in their section of the bracket but I picked them going all the way just because I knew someone on their team. They ended up making a crazy run and losing in the final four but before they lost I had a top 500 bracket in the country or something along those lines. 

So I have always been a half-hearted fan since then.

University of Virginia

~Anna Thomas, Staf Writer~

The University of Virginia (UVA) Men’s Basketball team has, time and time again, proven to be the class act of Division l basketball. Within the past 10 years, Head Coach Tony Bennett has lead the Virginia Cavaliers (or, the “’Hoos”) to two ACC Championship titles and three ACC Regular Season titles. 

The elite program is known for their effective pack line defense. After a win against Florida State University on Jan. 5, Bennett told the press, “Offense…can come and go, but defensively, you just have to make them shoot a contested shot.” 

Although their defensive style is more complex than those words, that mindset is what wins their games. Their patience and discipline allows them to rotate effectively, block out, and control the pace of the game like no other team. 

In fact, the ‘Hoos are said to be the slowest team in the league. Meaning, they force their opponent to play the entire shot clock on both ends of the court.

The ‘Hoos still pose as an offensive threat, making them that much more competitive. 

Guards Kyle Guy and De’Andre Hunter are averaging 15.0 and 14.5 points per game, respectively. As a team, they’re shooting 39.5 percent from behind the arc, making them the 12th best three-point shooting team in the nation, according to SportsReference.com.

Through all of this, Bennett places a strong emphasis on character and sportsmanship. He coaches his team to be better people, not just players, as he encourages them to follow what he calls Five Pillars: humility, passion, unity, servanthood, and thankfulness. 

This isn’t to say that the ‘Hoos are just a bunch of softies, because the accolades and statistics contradict that. They are, without a doubt, a winning team. And they win the right way.

University of North Carolina

~Austin Gregory, Head of CNUSports~

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is synonymously recognized with its historic basketball program. 

Although the program has had success on the court, including six national championships and 20 final fours, there are many aspects of the program that not many recognize. Coach Dean Smith is considered to be one of the greatest coaches of all time after winning two national championships in his 36 years at North Carolina. 

A little-known fact outside of the college basketball world is that Smith promoted desegregation in college basketball and more specifically in the UNC athletic department by signing the first African-American in the department’s history. 

Scott went on to average 22.1 points per game in his career at North Carolina and was also a gold medalist at the 1968 Summer Olympics. Smith is also well known for creating the “Carolina Way.” This notion was the idea of being a superb student-athlete while being the best person you could possibly be on and off the court. 

As evidenced by his historic graduation rate of 96.6 percent, Smith believed wholeheartedly in the student-athlete experience. 

In addition to this, if a prospective recruit wanted to sign at North Carolina, he had to sign a contract saying he would finish his degree if he would forgo the rest of his college education to go to the NBA. 

Even Michael Jordan, considered to be the best NBA player of all time, went back and received his Bachelor’s degree from UNC living up to his contract. Shortly after his death, he wrote a letter that included a $200 check to each of his former players telling them to “Enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.” 

This showed that even in his death, Smith put his players first above nearly everything else.

University of Kansas

~Mara Tharp, Production Manager & Copy Editor~

Coming from Missouri, I was raised to abhor anything with a Jayhawk on it—which is  difficult when one of the best teams in the country was 40 miles away. 

The University of Kansas, incidentally, houses the original rules of basketball written by Dr. James Naismith in 1891. While those rules weren’t written at the university, Naismith was KU’s first basketball coach.

 Rooting for this team goes against everything that I was taught as a child, but I cannot KU’s success ignore while searching for at least one consistent sports program in the midwest to support. 

Despite some recent struggles, things are looking up for the team. Between Dedric Lawson’s stellar performances and Freshman Ochai Agbaji’s growing talent, I am looking forward to this season for the Jayhawks as they fight to stay in the race for the conference title.

Duke University

~Michael Innacelli, CNUTV Managing Editor & Sports Editor~

Duke has been the program I support for NCAA Basketball for a long time, and I don’t think I could even entertain the idea of supporting another team.

This is the peak team in terms of skill, I mean how can you beat an all-time record of 2144–881? That is over a 70 percent win rate, which I don’t think I need to explain is astounding.

Imagine watching a team that wins pretty much every game, it is amazing to see. The Blue Devils of Duke aren’t just good, they’re exceptional.

However, this does not make a team fun to watch. What makes a team fun to watch is the players, and Duke has had and continues to have some of the best players.

Elton Brand (1999), Chris Carrawell (2000), Shane Battier (2001), J. J. Redick (2005, 2006), Nolan Smith (2011), Jahlil Okafor (2015) and Marvin Bagley III (2018) have all won the ACC Player of the Year, and that’s just since I have been alive.

Every starting player on the Blue Devil’s seems to get drafted into the NBA in the first round once they are eligible. Yet even though they lose all this talent to the NBA every year, they still manage to compete at the highest level every year.

This is due to the incredible freshmen class Duke always seems to pull in. That’s what makes a team exciting: being competitive and bringing in great new talent each year.

You really can’t beat watching a program like Duke’s. Each year it just gets better and better.

This year is a great example of that as well, as of right now they are ranked second in the nation and have a good chance of winning the whole tournament come March.

If that isn’t a good enough reason to watch then I really don’t know what is.

This year really is turning out to be another Blue Devils year.

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