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An Illogical Weekend

January 8, 2002 Columns No Comments

An Illogical Weekend

For those of us who don’t remember what we learned in high school math, the Law of Syllogism states that if P is greater than Q, and Q is greater than R, then logically P is greater than R. After the wild weekend of hoops upsets that we just witnessed, this law is illogical and wacky when studying the current state of college basketball.

Over the weekend of January 5-6, all four previously undefeated teams (Duke, Virginia, Oklahoma State and Miami) suffered loss number one, and a remarkable eight of the top thirteen teams in the country were defeated in conference action. One team after another lost over the two-day span, capped off by the most shocking upset of this young season, Florida State’s win over top-ranked Duke. The Blue Devils had won 22 straight games entering Sunday night’s contest, with their last loss more than 10 months ago against Maryland. Also, how about this compelling stat: Prior to Duke’s defeat at Tallahassee, Coach K’s squad had won 53 straight games against unranked ACC teams, with the last loss five years ago against N.C. State.

In trying to logically piece together the events of this past weekend and the swell of upsets in the first two months of this season, one can try and use the Law of Syllogism to solve the mystery that is coded NCAA BBALL.

How about this chain of patriotic Syllogism:

On 12/22, American (P) defeated Florida State (Q). Then the Seminoles (Q) beat Duke (R), the No. 1 team in the country. So what we have is American, thanks to the results of two games in the capital of the state that decided the last election, reigning as the best team in the nation, very fitting during this time of war in the United States.

Here’s another one:

On 12/29, IUPUI (P) defeated Georgia Tech (Q). Thirteen days earlier, Georgia Tech (Q) beat a top 10 team, Syracuse (R). Both games were at Georgia Tech, and by using the Law of Syllogism, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, known by a few more fantatics as IUPUI, should be in the top ten on the next AP poll.

There are numerous other fun and interesting examples of the Law of Syllogism at work (or not at work) so far this season. This kind of logic, while mathematically proven, has absolutely no bearing on college basketball in the 21st century. Any team can beat any other team, as parity and the frequent occurrence of upsets are the only constants in the sport. Just look at last weekend’s action, there are sure to be more of those days to come as the 2001-2002 season progresses.


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