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ok, so maybe i sometimes purvey
i'm ready for my close up mr demille
soopageek
Ok, I'll admit it. I am subject to an annual disorder that some call madness during the month of march. I may not watch much sports, but this time of year, there is nothing more thrilling and emotional than college basketball. I may be more susceptible than some due to my geography. If you live in central Kentucky, where championship-level basketball is considered to be the University of Kentucky's birth-right, you can't help but get caught-up in it this time of year. I mean this is a program that made 3 back-to-back NCAA tournament championship game appearances a few years ago (and won 2 of them under different coaches!), a program that has played more NCAA tournament games than any other team (121), a program that has won 7 tournament titles over its history (second only to UCLA's amazing 11 titles), a program that came behind from a 35 point deficit at half time to beat LSU one year, a program that played one of the most unforgettable games in recent memory against Duke, when Laettner received a hail-mary pass and sunk a top of the key shot at the last second to defeat UK in the 1992 NCAA tournament quarterfinals (it ranks as Michael Jordan's favorite game ever watched), a place where the coach can win the conference title and the conference tournament, but have a poor showing in the Big Dance and fans are calling for his resignation/termination.

I didn't mean to be such a cheerleader, just trying to give you an idea of the environment here if you don't know what it's like.

So, last night I'm closing at work, and getting ready to walk out the door when I catch the tail end of the South Carolina/Tennessee basketball game on TV: 6.4 seconds left, unranked South Carolina down by 2 points at home to #23 Tennessee. Tennessee has possession and is taking the ball out of bounds. Tennessee inbounds and is immediately fouled (1.8 seconds ticks off the clock), so they take it to the foul line where the player misses his first shot but hits the second, making it a 3 point lead. Inbound South Carolina, who make it to half court then is fouled by Tennessee. Not so stupid, they still weren't in bonus yet and made South Carolina have to inbounds again with less than 2 seconds left on the clock at half court. They setup a beautiful screen, inbound, the guy stops, pops, and drops in a nuthin' but net 26-foot 3 pointer at the buzzer sending it into overtime.

This is what basketball is all about and what makes the upcoming NCAA tournament so much fun - kids who have spent the last four months coming together as a team, learning to work together and (hopefully) now playing at their highest possible level of talent, passion, heart, and soul.

South Carolina eventually lost it, in another buzzer beater play (however not as spectacular, a missed inbounds lob under the basket) at the end of overtime, but it's that kind of atmosphere, where the underdog can jump up and bite a ranked team on the ass. Where a team can eradicate a 12 point deficit in the last 4 minutes against the odds-on favorite for the championship (Kentucky Vs. Duke, 1998 [sorry, there i go cheerleading again]).

In the words of General Patton: "God help me, I do love it so"

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Ha...I think I remember that game, as I lived in the shadow of USC at the time...

But that's not what makes the NCAA tournament so much fun. That can be summed up in one word: gambling.


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