Your stomach drops.
When the clock hits zero and the reality happens, your stomach feels empty and it hurts. All week, analysts and fans predicted it, but you didn’t believe them.
But it happened.
No. 12 seed Liberty defeated No. 5 seed Mississippi State. Just getting to the NCAA Tournament was a success for the Bulldogs, but it shouldn’t stop there. State fans — more than most fanbases — expect the best its teams can be. From tennis to basketball, teams need to be competitive. So, even though Liberty posed as an upset threat, MSU was expected to win in the eyes of fans and even Vegas.
Upsets are terrible when it’s your team that is on the bad end of it. Neutral fans, and especially fans of the Cinderella, love the underdog stories, but the section of fans that hate the little guy dancing through March are the ones feeling the worst.
It’s completely okay to think, “How did State lose?” It’s okay to think, “Where is Liberty? Is that the Division-I school that a LOT of people hate?” Most of all, it’s okay to feel sad and disappointed. However, just because the season came to an unfortunate end, one thing is important to remember: upsets happen.
For the first time since 2009, State fans sat through Selection Sunday — the most coveted holiday in college basketball — and went to bed happy. Only 68 teams end Selection Sunday with a smile, meaning 285 schools don’t have the chance to catch the nation’s attention. Being one of the 68 teams displayed on CBS is a privilege, and now that MSU has the expectation of always being one of those teams, be thankful.
I’m a die-hard Cincinnati Bearcats fan. Let me tell you, it really sucks sometimes. Brian Kelly leaving before the 2010 Sugar Bowl, watching Tommy Tuberville set the program back a few years, blowing a monumental lead to Nevada in the NCAA Tournament, losing to lower seeds, the list could go on. And that’s only the stuff I vividly remember, I know my dad would’ve written Kenyon Martin’s leg injury as the biggest heartbreaking moment in Bearcat history.
All of those experiences hurt in their own ways. Expectations smashed, hopes demolished and it gets tough being a fan. But once the dust settles, it’s important to reflect on the season. The Bulldogs set a record against Clemson, defeated multiple tournament teams and guess what: Next year, State has a lot of people returning, and the standard is set.
After years of disappointment when Selection Sunday came, the expectation is that “The Bulldogs of Mississippi State” flashes on the T.V. screen when announcing tournament teams. Right now, it sucks. It really does. But the excitement for next season has already started. The young players like Reggie Peters and Nick Weatherspoon are going to have more experience and Lamar Peters is returning. Next year should be a fun ride, but until then, the wait is long.
Also, it’s baseball season. That’s pretty fun, too.