I would have loved to give you something snappy, something to grab your attention.
Didn’t happen. And, let me admit up front, I turned off the UK game at Vandy early in the 1st, when it appeared obvious the Wildcats were going to roll. Uh . . . oh.
Nor did I see the end of Arizona’s first L at the wings of the Quack. After a long day, I couldn’t keep my eyes open, even though I love Bill Walton, who, while doing color, told tales of his love affair with the Dead. He also gave a player’s take on Phil Knight, who was in the crowd, cheering on the team he owns. For the record, Walton expressed how grateful players are to Knight and Nike for opening up new ways to make money. Legit.
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Here’s how I feel at mid season: Scared.
I am a University of Louisville basketball fan. I have just perused the national pundits and rating services.
Truth is just about everybody loves the Cardinals chances for the crown.
U of L tops Jay Bilas’s list. Two of three b-ball experts at si.com pick the Cards to win the title. Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin are on board, rating the Cards near the top of their computerized standings. The hoops junkies at cbsports.com too.
Even my friend David, a long time Cardinal fan and the world’s premier glass half empty fellow is talking title.
It wasn’t like this at this moment mid-season in ’80, even though the Cards were 11-2, because they’d lost 2 of their last 3. And, it sure wasn’t like this at this juncture in ’86. Louisville stood 8-4, though the losses were all to Top 20 teams (UK, Memphis State, St. John’s, Kansas).
My memory is foggy, but it’s hard to recall any previous Louisville team this beloved at this spot in the season. The ’75 team, picked to win it all by Sports Illustrated before the campaign, was still undefeated. But that was in the middle of the UCLA era. The ’09 squad that would end up as the faux top seed in the NCAA had already lost three times.
Besides there wasn’t the depth and breadth of punditry or exposure in those days. Now you can read what every “expert” has to say every day. And you can watch as many games a night as your Visined eyes will allow.
So, I’m suitably worried that it’s all going to fall apart for my team. Part of it has to do with my propensity to dissect every nuance of every game and pick up the flaws more than national observers can. Part of it is seeing how good other teams and players are. Like, you know, Kansas’s Ben McLemore, who went for 33 the other night. He took only 12 shots. He was 6/6 beyond the arc. So, I’m waiting for Russ or Wayne or our “best player” Luke to prove somebody on the Cards can do that too.
So, my stomach’s in turmoil. I can’t believe the Cards are a 20 point favorite over South Florida.
Two more Tums, s’il vous plait.
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What is equally as fascinating as the props afforded U of L is how few of the pundits are picking Duke to prevail at the end. Not many even think the Blue Devils will make it to the final weekend. Their tilt at NC State this afternoon should be telling. I haven’t seen the Wolfpack since their underachieving early season, so I can’t wait to watch.
The Hoosiers too are slipping under the radar. Tubby’s Golden Gophers come to visit this afternoon, a worthy test. I think the Crimson & Crean are legit. Lots of weapons at every slot.
Nor have I seen Michigan enough to assess them. That Trey Burke kid, the one who runs that show, is getting mucho ink.
The consensus is that Kentucky will be a contender come March. I’m not sure. A tough out, absolutely. Especially if they happen to match up with a rival. But a legit prospect to win 6 in a row. Nah.
Which leaves, oh yeah, Florida. And Arizona. And Kansas, which looks really good to me. And the Zags, who, one of these years, are going to meet expectations. And VCU, which actually plays as much if not more D than the Cards.
Oh, and you want your favorite team tipping it off against Butler, or Temple for that matter, in a sub regional? Didn’t think so.
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While there are any number of interesting made for TV superteam matchups in November and December. This is really the fun time of year. League games are the best. Winning a conference game on the road is never easy, whether you’re playing at Northwestern or DePaul or Clemson or Iowa State or Washington State.
Minnesota finds out how good it really is today in Bloomington. Duke in Raleigh. South Florida at the Yum!
Like UK’s gut check at Vandy. And ‘Zona at Oregon.
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Are the next 90 days what we live for here in Hoopsylvania or what?
Now if Blackshear can just evolve into that Golden Arches AA he is meant to be . . . and Peyton stops those silly reach ins . . . and Russ shows a modicum of maturity . . . and Silent L hits the boards . . . and Luke moves his feet on D . . . and Gorgui continues improving at the same rate . . . Chane, too . . . and Kevin Ware keeps finishing and learns when to dribble and when not . . . and the Cards hit their FTs . . . and The Rick coaches ‘em up like he did that championship squad at UK . . . and the team buys in . . . and they get a fair draw on Selection Sunday . . . and . . .
– Seedy K