I have been sitting here for a while trying to think of what I even want to say for this blog. I have so many mixed emotions and thoughts about what is coming up, so I figured I would just ramble on and see where it got me. So here it goes…
First of all, I still can’t even believe that this game is going to take place. Every year when the brackets come out, you check to see where Louisville and Kentucky are placed, and where they would meet up. But you never really think it is going to happen. I thought it was possible this year, because of how good Kentucky is and how much potential we had and the way we were playing. On my original bracket, I had Louisville in the Final 4, and Kentucky losing to Baylor in the Elite 8. Then I changed it to Kentucky in the Final 4, and UofL losing in the Elite 8. I could never even get myself to having us play each other in the Final 4 on a bracket because of how crazy I thought that would be.
With that being said, it is going to happen. There is no stopping it now. We are on a collision course with Kentucky in the Final Four. While we have nothing to lose and aren’t picked to win, it would still be crushing to lose this game. If we played anyone else and lost, it would still hurt because we are so close. But to lose this one to them would be crushing. Not saying it would crush the team or every single fan, but just speaking for me personally. I was born about a month after our 1986 National Championship, so this will be the biggest game I have ever seen in my lifetime.
Now as far as the actual game goes, I am realistic. I know how good Kentucky is, but I know how good we are too. Both teams have gotten better since that Dec. 31 matchup. Yes, UK has gotten better than they were, but we are completely different. We improved more, but only because we had more room to improve. Chane Behanan picked up his 2nd foul and then the technical foul pretty early, and was a non-factor all day. He has been great in the post season so far. Having him playing how he has been would be huge.
Peyton Siva was in his slump during that game. He was making bad decisions, not taking any shots with confidence, and just not playing well at all. He would drive in and challenge Anthony Davis or turn the ball over. Lately, if he drives in too deep, he stops and kicks it out or keeps dribbling back out to the perimeter. During the Big East Tournament, he started shooting a lot more, and with confidence. He showed off his floater in the lane, and has even been knocking down his jumper lately. Against UK on Dec. 31, he shot 2-13 and 0-4 from 3 point land.
Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith combined to shoot 3-14 for 9 points. Kuric was basically invisible. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist took him completely out of the game while he went on to get 24 points and 19 rebounds, dominating the game. So Kuric and Chris will have to show up, and I believe they will.
So that is enough about last game. Just wanted to point out how different things can be because we are just playing better now. We of course still have to play our best, because UK will certainly bring it. They are playing amazing also, winning every tournament game so far by double digits. Hopefully having veterans on this team will pay off, because there are surely going to be some jitters for this game. It will be interesting to see which team can play through the first few minutes of those jitters and then settle down and just play the game.
I had a UK friend ask me yesterday if I even wanted our teams to meet up in this scenario. I said I was torn on that. It is such a hyped up game and is so awesome for the state and for the rivalry on a national level, but it also has potential to be very ugly. Trash talking is fine, but people (on both sides) can be flat-out rude and just idiots. Without going into detail, I have already had a family member “unfriend” me, my brother, and my mom on Facebook for next to nothing really. It should never go that far, but some people are like that I guess. So I love the hype and the atmosphere will be insane, but some people make it not worth it. I just hope our state survives Saturday evening!
CSZ will be well represented in New Orleans this weekend. Myself, Steve, and Tony will all be making the trip. Jeremy can’t, which is definitely understandable. I am lucky to be able to make it. If you see us, give us a shout. We are all family on the road! Go Cards!