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College Basketball, The Wire, and The Addiction That is The Upset

David Simon had no idea that the seminal television drama of our generation could explain college basketball.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

But, the game's out there, and it's play or get played. That simple.

I need the high again. It has been too long.

The last one was more than eight hours ago. I need more.

I need to reach that point when I can't see straight, because something amazing just hit me straight in the heart with a force that was ... unbelievable.


You have been there, you know what it feels like to get there. But you normally have this once a year.

Yeah, this is what Thursday and Friday during that opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament feels like when you are a mid-major fan. Everyone out there knows what it is like to root for the underdog and see them come out on top. You jump on the bandwagon and you ride it for all it is worth because BASKETBALL.

You don't hope for that high, that little bump that will get you over the top, in November and December.

We do.

But man, some days just feel like an overdose.

Go back to Friday night, when most of the country were out at bars, or watching reruns on Netflix. They weren't watching Yale take on the defending champion UConn Huskies.

They didn't see the pass into the corner from Justin Sears that Jack Montague set through the net with barely any time left for the Huskies to fight back. They didn't experience the growing joy as they replayed the shot over, and over, and over.

This is when the high starts, and it makes it hard to go to sleep. You are restless, you want more. You hang on Twitter for an extra hour just because you have to believe that some kid at Yale will have something brilliant to say in 140 characters.

You revel in that high.

The hangover is just starting when NJIT and Michigan tip off, just as most people are getting ready to watch football for the final weekend of the regular season. They don't expect there to be anything to actually watch that takes place indoors. You don't expect the upset.

Then NJIT played the game, and Michigan got played.

As the Highlanders topped off the victory over the maize and blue, that high returned .Heck, it began with four minutes left, as NJIT looked to close out the Wolverines. That buzz grew and grew until it exploded in your brain like the fireworks on the 4th of July.

There's just the street, the game, and what happen here today.

This wasn't exactly a 16-1 upset, but it was close, and made everyone sit up and rub their eyes as if the morning sun were breaking into sleep-deprived faces. That little school with the jail cell of a gym had beaten a school that actually hangs banners in its stadium.

This is the big hit, the one that just keeps going. It is so strong that the first 30 minutes of the next game are a blur of Twitter and Facebook, and hundreds of words written about the Highlanders.

This is the high you keep chasing.

I can only imagine that this is the high that will hit when some mid-major finally gets over the top and wins the National Championship. This is the high that we missed with the Butler shot. This is the high we missed when Wichita State couldn't close against Louisville.

This is the high that is waiting for us all to one day experience again, the one we will forever be chasing.

Until that happens, we get the little bumps that keep us coming back. Like Green Bay beating Miami soon after the fog from the NJIT win had worn off. Or like North Florida knocking off Purdue, or USC Upstate taking out Georgia Tech.

Those keep us wanting more, coming back for every little fix that keeps reeling us in to the drug that is college basketball night after night. Those that don't follow the mid-major teams think they have this high when they beat a Duke, a Louisville, or a Wisconsin, but all they're really getting is just a little taste.

We open the vein and let it all in, because we are watching Mercer all the time, or UCSB, or UC-Irvine, or any other squad with a double-digit dancing seed this March. We know those teams and follow their struggles. We get the pain of trying to find that perfect game, that perfect win. That hit that is the reason they go to the gym every day and work just as hard as the guys across town, across the state, or across the country.

They want it just as much as we do.

And so today, everyone got a little early-December experience of that fabulous March high. We got our own version of Appalachian State beating Michigan.

We got NJIT, which in some ways is better.

This is a team without a conference that would share NCAA Tournament shares with it. This is a team with a gym straight out of Hoosiers. This is a team that struggles to fill a 30-game schedule because it doesn't have a home, and has to beg teams to play it from January through March.

This is a team with fewer resources that most out there, and they beat a team that has all the resources of a major conference at its disposal.

We got to share that today, and experience the high that we hope to feel once again in March. Who knows who our next dealer will be.

The game done changed...
Game's the same, just got more fierce.