Mike Muscala can't believe how perfect the opening night of college hoops was. - James Lang-US PRESSWIRE
If you were making a movie about college basketball, you couldn't write the script that was played out on Friday night, the opening night of college basketball. From upsets, to big performances, it was the perfect start in every way.
You couldn't draw it up any nicer if you were a coach in the huddle. The opening night of college basketball provided all the drama and glory that you want from the NCAA Tournament.
We just didn't need to wait until March.
You can't start anywhere other than with South Alabama. The Jaguars took out the ranked Florida State Seminoles thanks to some dead-eye shooting from Antoine Allen. The junior went 7-for-15 from the floor, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range. That is some ability.
"No, we knew Antoine was a winner," Arrow said. "Not only that, he's a leader."
It helps that the highly touted Michael Snaer couldn't shoot too, but you can't just blame him. The whole Seminole team was struggling.
So there you go. Fourth best in the Sun Belt? Maybe not. Tony Mitchell and North Texas need to look out.
Mitchell went for 18 points and seven boards, probably helping everyone in attendance (that revolution was not televised) to understand all of the hype around the sophomore.
Games like the one that South Alabama won highlight why college basketball is so special, but it wasn't the only bright spot on the evening.
Take George Mason winning for the first time ever over big brother Virginia. That was after we said that the loss of Erik Copes for the game would probably be the Patriots' downfall.
That was less than correct. Instead it was point guard Bryon Allen, who had 13 points and five assists, who was the catalyst.
Or maybe it was actually calling the Bucknell win over Purdue. Terone Johnson might have been out for the Boliermakers, but when you are a major conference team, no matter how poor you might be, you have depth. If Bucknell lost Mike Muscala, they wouldn't have anyone of the same caliber to replace him.
Which is why it is somewhat humorous that it wasn't even Muscala that had the big night. That belonged to Cameron Ayers, who scored 18. Muscala added 14 and 10 rebounds for the Bison, who walked away with the upset that everyone has been hoping for from this team in the NCAA Tournament.
This one just came five months early.
The other potential NCAA matchup, the one between Lehigh and Baylor, didn't exactly live up to the hype. But it wasn't Lehigh's fault they couldn't get anything out of Gabe Knutson.
Without him, this game was just a chance for C.J. McCollum to show us what he was made of, against a high level of competition.
All he did was go off for 34 points, eight rebounds and three steals. His team asked a lot of him (32 shots from the floor, compared to 43 for the rest of the team), and he delivered as much as he could give. It wasn't always effective -- McCollum pressed from time to time -- but man, it was a pretty sight to watch.
So yes, this night was enough to make us giddy with excitement for what the coming days and months will provide in terms of talent.
Tonight was exactly why we watch and write about college basketball. Tonight was a night for the little guy.
Tonight was the perfect opening night.