What happens when you find yourself giving props to your archest of rivals, whose defeats are usually an excuse for snacking on a half gallon of Greaeter’s. Last Saturday found me in that exact situation.
As most around here know, I’m a lifelong Louisville Cardinal diehard. It’s well past a half century on now.
Which means, generally speaking, losses by the Memphis State Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats are cherished. They both balled the other day while I was still high from the Cards smackdown of Clemson in the Yum!.
Memphis State’s battle prior to SMU on Saturday was anything but. They were doubled up upon by the the Golden Hurricane(s) of Tulsa. Literally. As in the Tigers of Allied Van Lines Coach of the Year Penny Hardaway 40, Frank Haith’s contingent 80.
It made me so sad. Ha, as if.
In their follow up, State had the Southern Methodist Mustangs in check. Until the Dana Kirks spit out the bit, surrendering 15 points in a row to end the game, losing 70-74.
Whenever this sort of joy spruces up my well being, I think of my encounter with a fan in Mid South Coliseum before a tourney final when U of L and MSU were about to tangle. In the concession line before tip, I was kidding around good naturedly with a young teen Tiger fan.
When his mother walked up, grabbed him by the collar, pulled him away and reprimanded, “How many times have I told you NEVER talk to a Louisville fan.”
Gosh, I hope she’s doing well, as her beloved team’s season, once destined to end with a national title according to their coach, falls apart.
She seemed like such a sweetheart.
Which brings me to the Cats. And, before I say what I’m about to, understand, I love when they fall. When the Badgers ended their undefeated campaign in the Final Four, it was a moment of genuine joy and inner satisfaction. To give but one example.
But, for a couple of weeks in a row now, UK has been, well, strong.
They overcame after Calipari was tossed in Fayetteville. And Saturday, before an even more rabid assemblage in Lubbock, they withstood a late 13-4 Texas Tech run to knot it up late, and prevailed in OT.
My inner b-ball fan then prevailed over my inner schadenfreuder. Instead of being pissed Kentucky won, I found myself admiring how solid they were, and overcame for the second tilt in a row.
Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT turning Blue. Not even close.
But, as much as I’m loathe to admit it, I am ever so reluctantly acknowledging that UK is now on the list of schools who appear, at this moment, to be capable of running off six in a row come March.
Along with Baylor, Seton Hall and Kansas. Gonzaga might also be worthy for inclusion, but I simply haven’t seen them enough to know. San Diego State will lose in the Dance.
It’s just so confusing when a team you’re born to dislike severs the helix of your DNA by playing admirable hoops.
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Wasn’t Shaka Smart once Brad Stevens, the coach every school wanted?
Whatever happened to his havoc defense?
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Oh yeah, I forgot.
Here’s another team on that legit contender list. Villanova.
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Illinois is tied at the top of the Big 10.
Brad Underwood can coach, and he’s got the Illini moving in the right direction.
If you haven’t seen Ayo Dosunmu play yet, shame on ya. The kid’s got the heart of a lion, loves the spotlight, and keeps delivering.
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Rutgers — yes, Rutgers, the University of New Jersey, that Rutgers — is 16-5 on the season, a half game back in the Big 10, well settled in the middle of the Top 25.
Meanwhile, that conference, easily the best top to bottom so far this campaign, also has a member named Penn State. The formerly pigskin only school has also crept into the upper echelon at #24 in the AP.
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Didn’t UCLA used to be good? Like really good? And important?
Long ago, far away.
Mick Cronin’s Bruins are a substantially mediocre 10-10. The first year coach has to be musing, “Boy, I’d sure love to be able to tune in WKRP on my radio dial.”
— c d kaplan