Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March Madness! Final Four, Baby.

Big news in the Bluegrass States is that BOTH University of Kentucky and University of Louisville are in the Final Four. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED! It is huge. At 10:30 in the morning on a Tuesday, there was a line almost out the door for UK/UL apparel at our favorite local store. I have already read about 10 various editiorials online and in the newspaper about this matchup--stories about the coaches, the players, the history of the schools, the fans, etc. I've read it all and it is only Tuesday. The epic game is Saturday.

Everyone expected UK to be in the Final Four. NO ONE expected U of L to be there. Hello, they lost 4 of their last 6 regular season games, but then haven't stopped winning since the post season started. I have rooted for UK all of my life. I can remember watching Rex Chapman shoot the 3 and wanting to be Deron Feldhaus's girlfriend. My grandparents bleed blue and so do my parents. I received my master's degree from UK and enjoyed winning several lottery tickets for student seats at Rupp Arena during that time. Growing up, I always felt U of L was not in the same league as UK. I mean, who would cheer for them unless you actually lived in Louisville?

Well, fast forward several years and now I HAVE lived in Louisville seven years and married a longtime U of L fan. He bleeds red (which I guess is more normal than bleeding blue?) Now that I'm a busy mom, UK games have kind of taken a back seat, but Jeremy doesn't miss too many opportunities to watch his team play, so I end up watching many of the games with him. Over the past several years, I've been to Rupp arena once or twice. I've watched maybe a dozen games from Freedom Hall and the new YUM Center. By the way, the YUM Center is fabulous other than its name. I love having this gorgeous facility downtown in our city. So, I guess I'm one of the rare "enlightened" people that can actually like both teams. (Just joking, no hate mail, please.) The media would have you believe that if you love one team, you must hate the other and vice versa. I will not let go of my roots, but I can embrace the present. I think it is silly to root against my hometown team (which by the way is still a KY team.) I have enjoyed watching these Cards play over the years. I know all of their names. I can barely keep up with the quick changing UK team now that they are basically a farm team for the NBA. The starting lineup undergoes an almost complete make-over every year.

UK is the more talented team. They are truly amazing to watch. They have no glaring weaknesses. Their basketball play is smooth--a joy to watch. They really deserve to win it all. Then, there's Louisville's team. They make me nervous as hell to watch. (What will Russ Smith or Peyton Siva do now?) Individually, they are not as talented, but basketball is a team sport. They are better together than they are individually. They have had ups/downs this year and many injuries to overcome. I have always loved to root for the underdog and there is no doubt that U of L is the underdog in this match up.

I have quite the dilemma on Saturday. I know that I'm wearing blue (and so is our daughter), but I can't say I will cry or be disappointed if UK loses. Saturday is Win/Win for me. But, if the Cards pull an upset and then don't go all the way to win the National Championship, I will be fired up because one KY team had better win it all!