Monday, March 13, 2006

March Madness

The NCAA tournament is finally here. It is my favorite time of year as a sports fan. Normally I take off work on the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament to watch the games. Unfortunately I won't be able to do that this year, but I will be sneaking into the breakroom at work to sneak a peak at the games for sure.

Instead of marching into the tournament on a wave of optimism and confidence like the past few years, my beloved Wildcats are limping into the tournament as a team of underachievers this year with an #8 seed and a nearly impossible task of toppling #1 Connecticut in the second round.....should the Cats even make it to the second round.

This year has been a full season of Kentucky trying to find itself, trying to establish its identity. UK is better with the return of Randolph Morris, but there are still glaring holes on offense and way too many lapses on defense.

This has been a year of confusion for UK fans on Kronos Lane and everywhere in Big Blue land. The UK flag is no longer flown on gamedays at our house as it has repeatedly jinxed the Cats to several losses. The boys no longer wear their UK outfits during games since the loss to the Tar Heels in December obviously had a negative effect on the team. Amy & I still have not found the magical seats in our house where we watch the game. So in fairness to the Cats, the Rutledges have not helped out the situation by constantly changing up their gameday routine.

But I am excited nonetheless for the tournament. In reality I would be pleased with a victory over the UAB team that ousted UK two years ago when Kentucky was a #1 seed (which remains the most devastating loss since the Duke/Laettner game in 1992) followed by a strong showing against #1 Connecticut. I don't expect too much more from Kentucky this year.

And I'm also excited because despite the number of fans here who don't recognize basketball outside the North Carolina/Duke/NC State/ACC realm, the Triangle truly is a haven for college basketball fans. The workplace empties out on gameday as bars fill up with hoops fans. Kids watch the tournament in school. The cashier at the cafeteria today asked me to go run off a copy of the brackets for her so she could fill in her picks....while people waited in line to pay for their food. College basketball is part of the culture here.

It's my favorite time of year.

BTW, I started a bracket pool for anyone that wants to submit their picks. Shoot me an email if you did not get a link and want to join in -- the more, the merrier. Cheers!


Ashley said...

Could I send you a Murray State flag to fly in NC this week? Go Racers!!!

Derek said...

Ha! A Tar Heel fan I work with asked me yesterday, "Is Murray State in Ohio?"

Maybe the Racers will give the Heels a run for their money. Go ahead & send the flag -- I know some NC State fans who desperately want Carolina to lose that would proudly display it too.

Ashley said...

I do believe Murray State beat NC State in the tournament one year! Maybe this will be the year to beat NC!!! The great thing about March Madness is when an underdog wins ....unless you are from UAB.....