What tha Kentuck? [Originally posted 4/7/14 on sportsblog.com]

Since I started watching college basketball back in 1991, I have never correctly predicted a tournament winner. This year was the most perplexing field to predict this year because there was no clear cut favorite and the region that had my favorite teams to watch, was also the toughest one to win. What Kentucky has done to emerge from the Midwest is nothing short of incredible. Aside from the opening round (in which I incorrectly picked K-State beating them), every game they ended up being the most entertaining game each round. As much as I dislike the history of Kentucky hoops, I find it hard to root against Texas boys, Julius Randle, and Aaron and Andrew Harrison. I don’t see them spitting the bit in what amounts to a home game for those three young men. Now with Myles Turner and Emmanuel Mudiay both stepping onto the scene for next year, Texas hoops has to be on the map for putting ballers out into the spotlight.

I watched the game on Saturday with a die hard Kentucky fan, and hanging out with him, reminded me of the downside of blind fan loyalty. Instead of enjoying what was a classic game, the guy sat on the couch, red faced and screaming, agonizing over every possession. It didn’t look like fun. After he went nuts over the Aaron Harrison game winner (again????), he slumped down onto his sofa in relief. I’d forgotten how nerve wracking rooting for your favorite team can be (because it seems like forever since I’ve watched a Jayhawks game). I had a brief flashback of the Christian Laetnner shot back in 1992, and instantly wanted to inch out of his apartment in case, another one of those miracle endings happened. I don’t feel sorry for people very often, but I would have if that Traevon Jackson shot had gone in. As exciting as buzzer beaters can be, but you can’t help but feel for kids who lose in such heart breaking fashions.

I remember the ulcer I nearly gave myself during game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals, when I sat up in LOUD CITY, screaming at Danny Crawford as the refs gave Miami the W, in one of my more frustrating basketball experiences. My buddy invited me over to watch the championship game and I wonder if I should go. I think if it were me, I’d be so stressed out, that I would want to watch it alone. My dude was almost in tears when Traevon Jackson for Wisconsin, got fouled at the end of the game to set up his three free throw attempts. I asked my buddy if he was going to buy some bubbly, but he’s too superstitious to set up a post game celebration. Frankly, unless its a blowout, it doesn’t sound very enjoyable, and isn’t that the whole point of championships–to enjoy the experience? The more I think about it, the better off I am going up to Henry T’s and eating some wings and drinking a cola beverage. I don’t want to watch him crying after a defeat, and I don’t want to celebrate a Kentucky win.

Even if UCONN wins I won’t be happy. I’m still smarting over their win on Saturday against the Gators. I didn’t think I need another reason to dislike the University of Florida, but their loss on Saturday derailed my last chance at winning the house money from my bracket. A Florida win would have put me over the top in points, but thanks to Shabazz Napier (who was in control of the whole game despite only taking 6 shots) with his 12 points, 4 steals and 6 assists, a guy who picked his bracket winners based on the strength of every school’s mascots won the pot. I hope that UCONN wins, but watching tonight will be like monitoring the 2008 presidential election, I don’t care for either party, but it just so happens that the blue state represents the lesser of two evils.

At about 10:30 tonight, people will either be writing about 5 freshman putting together an unprecedented run, or they will be writing about how a senior point guard put a team of average ballplayers on his back, and willed them to an unlikely championship. Either story line works well for the tournament. No matter which teams prevail, Jerry Jones will be the real winner. Despite my dislike for basketball games being played in huge domed football fields (with elevated courts that can lead to players injuring themselves on loose balls and fans being so far away from the action), there is not a bad seat in the house. The place is gigantic, but every seat is tailor made for good viewing, AND there is a enormous screen that makes it impossible to miss any action (you might even find yourself just watching everything on the big screen–which seems a little silly). The city of North Texas (Arlington gets no love do they?) will be in for a treat tonight. Hopefully there won’t be a lot of drinking and driving or shootings at the strip club tonight.

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