The other day I beseeched you, the Greek God of Hoops, to ensure the Louisville Cardinals would return to the hardwood Wednesday evening.
You, and you alone — Or So I Thought — could and would make it happen, if only to assuage the angst of this long time acolyte.
But noooooooooo, you apparently used your powers to manifest the free throw shooting prowess of arch rival instead. My solar plexus throbs in pain from the blow.
You let me down. I have moved on.
In hopes that such faith shall be answered, I have now pledged my troth to Baller, Viking God of Striiingmusingnum, Brother of Balder, Viking God of Tonsorialism, Brother of Thor, Viking God of Hunkorama Popcorn Cinema, son of Odin and Frigg, the true and only (non-golfing) residents of Valhalla.
Oh, Baller, all wise and all powerful, whom I now flatter in a Nordic sort of way, and in whom I now believe to the core of my hoopaholic soul, please allow the Cardinals to take to the hardwood on Saturday against the Tar Heels of North Carolina.
Is it too much to request a victory too?
So it be asked. Let it be done.
* * * * *
No, it’s not an LSD flashback. Though, frankly, that’s what they promised us imbibers back in the day, and I wouldn’t mind.
It’s just when U of L’s COVID interregnum continued Wednesday afternoon, just hours before tipoff, I found myself wandering about, obsessively eating peanut butter, wondering how to find some ballast after yet another tilt was cancelled.
Plus I am also apparently suffering CSSD Syndrome, crainial syntaxic synaptic disengagement.
But, there is still basketball being played, even if it’s not the Cardinals yet.
The NCAA tournament is generally believed to be a 100% Go!. Baller willing, it shall come about, and, Baller willing, Louisville shall be invited to the Ball.
In the meantime, I’m left to contemplate — with apologies to Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello — tiers, tiers and more tiers of the bracket.
At least mention some schools I’m thinking about, or have some shtick to share
* * * * *
Tier 1. Guess who, Burton Cummings?
Gonzaga. They beat Kansas. Easily. West Virginia. With dispatch. Survived a four game hiatus, continuing to run the table with Ws over Iowa, and UVa, the latter hugely.
Only four teams in the Big Data Era have had a better overall efficiency rating than Mark Few’s Zags.
Baylor. I remember a few years ago, one of the pro scouts who regularly comes through these parts, telling me Scott Drew was among the dirtiest coaches in college hoops, when it came to recruiting.
I dunno. What I know he’s done an incredible job in Waco. Especially when you consider how toxic the situation was before he arrived. Turmoil. Murder plots.
The Bears might have been odds on last year, and will at least be co-faves this time around.
Tier 2. Just some other teams I like and/or want to chat about.
Florida State. Talk about a coach who has, late in a long career, moved beyond the top line in “Great Recruiter, Bad Coach” rankings. Leonard Hamilton, come on down.
Coming off a lay off, they drew and quartered Virginia.
They’re the team not in any tier, nobody wants to face in Indy. Unless it’s . . .
Michigan. It did not take long for alum Juwan Howard to prove he’s not Clyde Drexler or Chris Mullins. The dude was smart enough to hire Phil Martelli, Howard Eisley (not of the Isley Brothers’ Isleys) and Saddi Washington to assist.
The Wolverines aren’t often thought of as a hoops power. But they’ve won it all, lost in the title game, and survived rather nicely the strange abdication of John Beilein.
Hunter Dickinson. Love how he always holds the ball high.
Tier Whatever. Some other schools which have caught my attention.
Illinois. Looooove that Dosunmu kid. He could go all Kemba Walker in the tourney.
Oooooooooklahoma. Talk about a wind come blowin’ off the plains. The Sooners won at Texas, bested the Crimson Tide, in maybe the season’s best game, as well as the Mountaineers.
One word: Lon Kruger. The fellow can coach. Which he’s done at any number of places.
Loyola Chicago. Love that Sister Fan. Love the school colors. Loved watching them beat Cincy in ’63 final. Bummed I lost my title t-shirt.
Alabama. Instant Oats. Treys and Bunnies. Treys and Bunnies. For good or bad, the future style of college hoops currently resides in Tuscaloosa.
Fauda. Oops, nevermind, That’s the great Netflix TV series I’m watching now. Because. U of L. Hasn’t. Played. In. Forever. And I want to get on with it . . . as soon as I finish this screed and get it posted.
Texas Tech. Love how the Red Raiders play. Chris Beard’s the next great coach, or so I’d opine.
Mac McClung is one of the most interesting ballers in the game.
Oh, there’s more, but my fingers are tired, and I need to do some back exercises.
Just remember, neither Gonzaga and Baylor is a lock.
Remember Shabazz Napier. Remember Wisconsin over Kentucky.
They still have to play the games.
Including, you hearin’ me Baller?, Cards vs. Tar Heels.
— c d kaplan