End of Times
I don’t know which should scare me most, the fact that the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville will be playing in the semifinals of the Final Four or the book that came across my desk this morning.
Either way, the end must be near. I know the Mayans predicted December 21, but now I’m doubtful.
It is clear, life as we know it will stop—shut down—a few minutes after 6 p.m. this Saturday, March 31. That’s when the ball will be tipped up in the Super Dome in New Orleans for the shocking showdown between the No. 1 ranked Wildcats and the fourth-seeded Cardinals. Between the hours of 6 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Kentucky residents (if any remain here) are hereby granted permission to dance in the streets, avenues and interstate highways, which are expected to be unused. If the Cats, as predicted, win the game, life may slowly return to normal although it may take weeks or months. If, however, the Cards win, fear the apocalypse. “There will be people in Kentucky who will have a nervous breakdown if they lose to us,” Rick Pitino, who won a championship at Kentucky in 1996, said after his Louisville team’s win over Florida. “They’ve got to put the fences up on the bridges” to keep people from jumping.
For once John Calipari and Pitino, seemingly bitter rivals, agree on something: UK’s fans. “They’re crazy. They’re crazy,” Calipari said.
Anyone who claims they saw this matchup coming a few weeks ago isn’t crazy—they’re lying. The Cards were given up for dead in February. Several of my friends going into the last week of the regular season, as the Cards lost four of their last six games, said that they wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cards lose early in the Big East Tournament and possibly be passed over for a NCAA bid. It could have happened.
But it didn’t. The Cards somehow reinvented themselves as a defensive masterpiece and won the Big East en route to a No. 4 seed. In the tourney, they’ve beaten Davidson, New Mexico, Michigan State and Florida. During their current eight-game winning streak, five of their opponents have failed to record more than 56 points. They held high-scoring Michigan State to 44 points.
The Wildcats on the other hand have won with offense, rolling over upstart Western Kentucky, Iowa State, Indiana and Baylor to earn their second trip to the Final Four under Calipari. They’ve defeated each NCAA tournament opponent by double-digits, the first team to do that since North Carolina won the NCAA in 2009.
So on Saturday it will be the defense of Louisville against the offense of Kentucky, the odds-on favorite. The victor will play either Ohio State or Kansas Monday night for the crown in a game that, this year, is merely an afterthought.
National sportswriter Dick Jerardi said in his follow-up coverage from Atlanta, that “the only event that could possibly be bigger in Kentucky would be if Secretariat was reincarnated and in the 2012 Derby starting gate. And that might not do it this spring.”
He’s right. Ask any Kentucky fan and the honest ones will tell you they’d rather crush Louisville and lose the national championship, than lose to Louisville.
The thought of it makes life no longer worth living.
Then the morning mail arrives and contained in it as book titled “The Anthology of Really Important Modern Poetry.” Yes, “really important modern poetry,” featuring the “timeless poems of Snooki, Kanye West, Kentuckian Tom Cruise and Justin Bieber. There you go: don’t worry about Saturday, the world is already over.