Generally speaking, there are two types of champions. The first is the sexier of the two, the juggernaut variety. These are the champions that either a) make blowouts fun to watch (see ’96 Kentucky or ’08 UNC) or b) make the sport completely unwatchable (see the latest version of Geno Auriemma’s UConn Huskies). There have been times this season when Kentuck’s had the look of this type of champion, but none more so than during their beatdown of UT Saturday afternoon. Kentucky is one of those teams that’s always had the talent, but they’ve also had the lapses, those periods of games where either Wall, Cousins, or just the entire squad look disinterested or immature (or both). But against the Vols in Nashville on Saturday, Kentucky looked like a team that managed to get their foot on the jugular of their opponent and decided they liked the way it made them feel. They didn’t just beat Tennessee, they ripped their heart out, stomped on it, then saw that the Vols were still breathing, so they decided to suffocate them with their fibrous pericardium, just for good measure.
Then, today, Kentucky showed how they can sometimes look like that other kind of champion. These are the kind of champs that, even though they, you know, win the championship, often times still aren’t thought of as the best. You’ve seen teams like this before – Florida in ’06 or even Kentucky in ’97, for instance – they’re the kind that rarely look great doing it, but always seem to find a way to win. Even when they’re not playing their best, and even though they’re getting everyone’s best shot, night-in and night-out, they find a way to get it done.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not totally sold on this team. Sometimes I think they’re the second kind of champion I just talked about, but most times I just think they’re a an extremely talented, extremely young team that has the kind of lulls that you’d expect from a unit run by 19-year-olds. But today’s game wasn’t the kind that’s usually won by immature 19-year-olds. Today’s victory against Mississippy State was a hard-fought, gritty, back-and-forth classic that has absolutely made me reevaluate the way I see this team. In the SEC Championship, against a tough Mississippi State squad, down five with two minutes left to go, and then three with nine seconds…Kentucky found a way to get it done. Un-fucking-believable.
– Before I get to the travesty that is our NCAA bracket seeding, I’d like to say a few things regarding how totally fucking remarkable the ending to today’s game (or at least the regulation) really was. I mean, when do you ever see the old make-the-first-but-miss-the-second-free-throw trick actually work? First off, kudos to Eric Bledsoe for a good miss. More times than not, you see a player use the throw-it-as-hard-as-I-can-off-the-rim strategy that inevitably results in the ball coming right back at them, just in time for the man boxing them out to hold up his hands and grab the game-sealing rebound. Second off, what a fucking play by DeMarcus Cousins. He really is a gifted offensive rebounder. Everything about it, from the anticipation of how short Wall’s short would come up, to getting the position to snag it, to then having the presence of mind to go up with it like that was unreal. By my count, Cousins catches the ball, goes back up with it, and gets it out of his hands in about .8 of a second. Unbelievable.
– And can someone please explain to me how the the second #1 seed (us and Kansas were really like 1 and 1A) ends up with West Virginia as the #2 in their bracket? Are you KIDDING ME? West Virginia should’ve been a #1. Nothing short of those two playing and the Blue Devils coming out victorious will convince me that Duke’s better than them. And as if WV wasn’t enough, we might end up playing Texas – a team that was #1 in the country at one point this season – in our second game. Both of those teams should’ve been placed in the fourth #1 seed’s bracket, a bracket which should’ve been belonged to Duke. And of course, as if the universe doesn’t already have more than enough reason to hate those pussies from Durham, Duke has the easiest road to the Elite Eight of anyone. Villanova will be a tough game for them (you could actually make the case that ‘Nova has the easiest road to the Final Four of any team, as I think they’ll absolutely crush Duke and should make it to that game without much trouble), but after that, Louisville might be the team I’d least like to play in that entire bracket, which is saying something. My question – How does the NCAA committee, which is surely aware of the widespread assumption that there’s a Duke bias within the NCAA – allow something like this to happen? Unbelievable.
– Other than Kentucky, I’m not sure there’s a team that got royally fucked harder than Kansas. I’m guessing they’d love an explanation as to how they were proclaimed the overall #1 and still have to share their bracket with Ohio State, Tennessee (one of the two teams to beat them this season), Oklahoma State (the other team that beat them this season), Georgetown, Maryland, and Michigan State. Seriously, how does the overall #1 get stuck in a bracket with the only two teams to beat them all season, the Big East Tournament runner-up, the Big Ten Tournament Champion, and the team that was ranked #2 in the country (Kansas was #1) in most polls to start the season?