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Monday, March 27, 2006

Geo. Mason reminder of why college is better than pros

The flood of underclassmen and high school kids to the NBA figured to be the death knell for college basketball. How wrong they were.

George Mason's remarkable run to the Final Four is the perfect reminder of why I like college sports over the professional ranks. A former colleague was confounded by that. He thought the pro game was far superior to anything the college game could produce

Here are the Patriots -- a team that barely made it into the NCAA Tournament -- a game away from playing for the national championship. They have been giant slayers, knocking off Michigan State, North Carolina and UConn in the process.

And don't forget Northwestern State. Until George Mason emerged, the Demons were the darlings of the tournament for their first-round upset of Iowa.

These teams exemplify the passion of college sports. When is the last time you saw a professional team play with similar passion? The 2004 Boston Red Sox? The 2004 Detroit Pistons? The 2005 Pittsburgh Steelers?

Every college team during this tournament plays for every minute. Did you see Geo. Mason guard Lamar Butler? He's keeping a couple of mementos from the Patriots' win over UConn.

"One I'm going to keep in my pocket wherever I go. One I frame and keep it on my wall," he told ESPN.com of what he's going to do with the strands he cut from the net.

I can't remember the last time a pro athlete was as heartfelt as Butler.


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