No one ever accused me of being an optimist. I was taught to always prepare for the worst, so I’ve lived my entire life expecting misfortune and disaster around every corner. I’m also kind of tight with my money. So it was somewhat out of character when I took the leap of faith and purchased premium-priced tickets to the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Houston this year. Of course this was way back in December when my beloved Kentucky Wildcats had just dispatched the evil Duke Blue Devils in the Champions Classic in Chicago. The Cats were supposed to roll through the remainder of the regular season in their quest for Championship #9. Well, by now you know what happened–misfortune and disaster in the Big Dance. And yet, here I am at my first Final Four without UK in contention, staying at a flea-bag motel on the outskirts of this gigantic megalopolis of a city, wondering “WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I DOING HERE?”
My lone remaining mission for this basketball season is to take down the North Carolina Tar Heels. I can’t stand the sight of anything Carolina blue. The four corners offense, Dean Smith’s nasal twang (especially while cussing out Rick Robey), Tyler Hansbrough’s face, the wine and cheese elitist fans–it all makes me want to puke.
Twenty years ago, UK and UNC were neck-in-neck for the greatest number of total basketball victories. It was powder blue versus big blue, The Carolina Way versus Big Blue Nation, the Dean Dome versus Rupp Arena, Michael Jordan versus Sam Bowie, good academics versus bogus academics. Boy, the irony of that last one makes me chuckle. How can a university accused of such academic fraud for the past 25 years even participate in an NCAA sanctioned event, much less a basketball national championship?
Coach Cal tells us to never root against anyone else. “It’s bad Karma”, he says. I can’t help myself in cheering against the Heels. I suddenly love Jay Wright’s custom tailored suits. Who doesn’t marvel at Buddy Hield’s shooting? Jim Boeheim’s whining actually sounds kind of melodic to me. Give me Syracuse any day. Sic ’em Sooners, Go Nova. While in Houston, it’s strictly ABC–ANYBODY BUT CAROLINA!