The question is it better to be No. 1 or beat No. 1 is making the rounds at LMU. This comes after our Railsplitter Men’s Basketball Team ascended to the top of the NCAA Division II rankings last Tuesday. It was an achievement no LMU basketball team had accomplished in the past and, in fact, was a first for a South Atlantic Conference team.
Certainly it was a point of pride for LMU, the SAC, the Railsplitter athletic department, Coach Josh Schertz and the entire team. Railsplitters everywhere promptly took to Twitter and Facebook to tweet and post that the Railsplitters were NO. 1! The team also received notice from Knoxville media including the Knoxville News Sentinel, WBIR and WVLT, something that has been hard to come by even with a resurgent program.
The next day, Coach Schertz and his team scored 131 points in a win over Mars Hill. Though the Lions scored 96, it was still a 30+ point whipping of their conference foe. A true test for the team came on Saturday when they travelled to Anderson for an afternoon game.
Coaches and players alike will tell you there are just some teams that have your number. No matter the odds or how the cards are stacked, you just always struggle against them. For LMU, Anderson is that team. In last year’s record breaking run, Anderson handed the Railsplitters two of their three losses and ended the season by beating them in the NCAA Tournament. Sadly, the trend continued on Saturday as Anderson picked up an overtime win over the No. 1 ranked Railsplitters.
Under coach Schertz, LMU is a program that is unaccustomed to losing. It was just the 12th loss in three years. It should be really interesting to see how the team responds. Which brings me back to the original question, is it better to be or beat No. 1? The reports I heard said that most people who were asked that question responded, “to be No. 1”.
Honestly, either option is a pretty sweet deal, but up until last week I would have said beat No. 1. I love underdogs. Anyone who beats No. 1 has to be considered an underdog and how can you not pull for the underdog? Why the change of heart? Well, for the first time in my lifetime as a basketball fan, I had two No. 1s to root for and it was heartbreaking to have one of them lose so quickly after reaching the pinnacle.
Wait, two No. 1? Yeah, you read that right. I’m a college basketball fanatic and I have four teams that I claim. First and foremost, the Railsplitters (my check says LMU, I know where my bread is buttered!), but the team I have rooted for since birth has been the Syracuse Orange(men). I also have a sweet spot for my alma maters, St. Bonaventure University and the University of Tennessee.
So after seeing the Railsplitters falter at Anderson and then watching a close-ish game for the Orange against Pittsburg, I will revise my opinion and say it is better to be No. 1 than beat No.1, unless you’re the underdog beating No. 1.