What's a Kentucky Fan To Do?

So, got any plans this weekend? As a lifelong and loyal Kentucky fan, I’d like to skip the tournament and plunge myself headfirst into Derby festivities, but  I live over here in North Carolina, and there aren’t any. Specifically, I live in Wake County, home of NC State and a 45 minute drive to either UNC or Duke. As you can imagine, living here amongst these similarly basketball crazed folks, I find it much more fun when we win the championship than I do when we are knocked out of the NIT by Zack Morris. Fine, whatever. Robert Morris.

Actually, living outside of Kentucky for such a long time has allowed me to almost want U of L to win a game or two, and that’s saying something. Go Birds. And while I’m mentioning Kentucky schools in the tournament, here’s hoping that Western Kentucky becomes the first 16 seed to upset a 1 seed. If anyone loves to choke in the tournament, it’s Kansas, so here’s your chance, Toppers!

Anyway, as difficult as some of the past week’s games have been for many of us to watch, there has been a multitude of excellent basketball programs available to ease the pain. Let's review my favorites.

1. Of course there has been coverage of Julius Randle joining the Harrison twins, James Young, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee in Kentucky’s next recruiting class. Some analysts are calling this the best recruiting class ever, by anyone, anywhere. (Did you hear that, Fab Five?) And what’s important about that? Well, this kind of news serves as the light at the end of a disappointing tunnel. And of course that light is another banner hanging from the rafters at Rupp.

Welcome to the BBN, Julius!

2. Did you catch Bluegrass Kingdom: The Gospel of Kentucky Basketball? Any Kentucky fan would declare it the finest of love letters to our beloved basketball team and the most passionate fanbase ever known. I wager that even someone who didn’t necessarily like Kentucky but appreciates history and good basketball could think of a nice word or two. You will see everyone from Pat Riley to MKG singing the praises of the program. If you missed it, and I hope you didn’t, you can catch it here.

3. We were also drawn into the latest 30 for 30 on ESPN, which heralded Jimmy Valvano and his 1983 NC State Tournament Champions. The documentary is called Survive and Advance, which coincidentally is my mantra for each day with all my sports crazed, busy boys; well-traveled husband; and geriatric dog. But back to Jimmy V... I think that anyone with a heart that isn’t cold and dark has to admire such an inspirational man and the courage with which he lived out the end of his life. The touching way that his former players reunite and reminisce about the days of their unbelievable Cinderella run (which were apparently 30 years ago – excuse me, whaaaat?) brought me to tears. Don’t care who you pull for here in the ACC – you would give Jimmy V. a standing ovation if you could.

Cats or no Cats, of course I will still watch plenty of basketball in the coming weeks. No time like NCAA Tournament time is more rife with rivalry and excitement. Having lived in both Kentucky and North Carolina, we have certainly witnessed some intense rivalries. One thing I know for sure? Whether you love the Cats or the Cards, the Heels or the Pack, there is a single, common thread that binds all of us together. None of us likes this guy:

*Apologies to my three friends who actually do like this guy