Let me take you back to April 3rd 2010. On that night, Butler won their semi-final match up against Michigan State to advance to the national championship game. It was an inspirational victory that showed the country that the little guys were not only here to play, but to win. What followed has been a streak of teams and performances from underdogs the sports world has not seen, maybe ever. Here is one fan who hopes it will continue, and thinks it just may.
Last week we saw two major upsets in baseball as both the Yankees and Phillies went down in their LCS matchups to major underdogs. Both the Yanks and Phills crushed their LDS opponents. It looked like a lock to have a rematch of last year’s World Series. The Rangers and Giants decided they would have none of that and both outplayed their opposing team in just six games to advance to one of the most improbable World Series matchups of all time.
How about Boise State against TCU in the national championship game? Boring. I’m thinking of a bigger surprise in the title game. Boise State and TCU are so 2009. Actually, Boise State is so 2007. Both of those schools started this year already ranked in the top 10. How would both of those schools making it to the title game be considered an upset? Just because both schools don’t play in power conferences doesn’t make it an upset.
Not when everybody recognized in the preseason that both schools were going to be great this year. I am thinking outside the box, more like the Rangers and Giants. I am thinking Missouri against Michigan State. Neither one of those schools was in the preseason top 25, yet here they sit, both in the top 10 with only one major test left. Missouri plays Nebraska and Michigan State plays Iowa this weekend. Now Missouri will have to win the Big 12 title game if they get there, but would likely play Oklahoma, whom they beat once, or Oklahoma State. Hello Giants – Rangers in college football form!
The NFL has their version brewing this season too. Things could get tricky to have an upset team come out of the strong AFC (don’t worry I have one in mind) to represent them in the Super Bowl but what about the NFC? That conference champion has unlikely hero written all over it. It also happens to come from way out west, this time via Seattle, in the form of a Seahawk. Did anybody pick Pete Carroll’s crew to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl? Anyone? Exactly. Yet here we sit approaching Halloween with the Seahawks representing a legitimate chance of advancing all the way to the Super Bowl.
“I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” Those words made the Miami Heat favorites to win the East this year in the NBA. Phil Jackson and the Lakers enter the season as the favorites to win the West. If anybody but these two teams wins their conference, it would be considered an upset, but I am concerned with major upsets here and to topple the Lakers, we are going to the Pacific Northwest again and picking the Trail Blazers to upset the Lakers. The Trail Blazers should make the playoffs no problem, but to win the West? Nobody thinks that would actually happen.
Not with the Lakers, Rockets, Spurs, Mavericks, Suns, Jazz and Thunder around. But the Trail Blazers have the size and athleticism to make it happen. Out East? Oiy! My heart says the Milwaukee Bucks. (Corey Maggette for MVP!) But my head has a different team in mind that could topple the talented South Beach trio and it’s the Chicago Bulls. I am picking the Bulls to upset the Heat for two reasons. One, everyone knows about, and it’s Derrick Rose. I don’t think the Heat have anybody to stop him. Two, is their coach. Tom Tidideaux. The man is a defensive wiz and if anybody can design a game plan to slow down the Heat, it is the Rex Ryan of the NBA. Hello Giants – Rangers in pro basketball form.
We as sports fans are on the precipice of over a calendar year of upsets. Make sure to enjoy all the possibilities. We could very easily be engulfed in team after team of predictable champions longing for the days of Gordon Hayward and the Bulldogs. Any of us who have spent any time and energy rooting for the improbable knows the feeling we get when it happens. If we are lucky enough to witness team after team do the unthinkable, we can look back to that fateful night in Indianapolis where Butler toppled Michigan Sate and started us on our improbable run of upsets and champions.
Join ESPN Insider today for the best sports analysis online, plus ESPN The Magazine!