September 23, 2018

I’m Going To Do This Anyway

Okay, I don’t care what I said, or who reads this post, or cares to, or can understand it, or anything else.  I love college basketball, and I want to write about it now because, right now the NCAA Tournament is coming to a close.  The NCAA Tourney is like the High Church of college basketball.  No, it’s more than that, it’s the cathedral, no, it’s the Vatican…no, forget about what I just wrote, I’m getting lost in these metaphors, anyway.  It’s just, simply, the best time of year for college basketball fans.  Even if, like me, if your school isn’t participating.  Actually, writing that last line makes me just sick, because IU, my Alma Matty (as Charles Pierce says), which has one of the proudest traditions in the country, is not in the Tournament this year.  Again!  In fact there are only a few schools in America that are referred to as having a basketball program, instead of basketball team.  Meaning, of course, a school with a long tradition of competing at the highest level, year after year, winning national championships, and amazing all who watch.  That has been IU’s great tradition..  Unfortunately, Indian University officials turned this hallowed program over into the hands of a crook and charlatan a few years back, and he, totally and in every way, wrecked it so bad that it will take years to build it back up to where it once was.  Fortunately, we found the one coach in the country who could do that, and IU will be back in the “Big Dance” (as the tourney is called) next year.  I promise!!!

 But enough of the melancholy.  The Big Dance is on and I have reasons to be happy again.  Now, in Indiana there are three schools, that are supported by the entire state at this time of year, that always have high caliber basketball teams competing in the Big Dance:  Purdue, Notre Dame, and IU (Oh, God, there’s that stabbing ache in my heart again!).  Year after year, those three are always not just in it, but have a good chance to actually win it.  But, lately, there is a fourth Indiana team that is starting to compete on the same level.  Which is amazing, since it is a very small school, and small schools aren’t usually able to compete at this level (for a lot of reasons but, mainly, because they don’t have the same size funding – and it costs a lot, believe me, to compete with the big-time schools).  More than that, this small school typifies what Indiana Basketball is really all about.  And that is:  building a team, instead of just putting together a collection of star players.  So, naturally, the entire state of Indiana is behind this team in a very big way.  This school is Butler, and last year Butler, in an event so improbable that it made every one in the country think of the movie Hoosiers, played in the final game for the National Championship!  No one could have predicted it, and hardly anyone could have thought it could happen.  But, amazingly and unbelievably, it did happen.

 However, it was generally dismissed as one of those once-in-a-lifetime, million to one, events, never to be repeated again.  And, this year, sure enough, Butler had a terrible season, losing nine games to teams nobody had even heard of.  But, somehow, they qualified for the Dance, and…Guess what?  They started winning!  They beat Old Dominion by just one point in the last second of the game.  Then they played the #1 seed in their bracket, Pittsburgh, and won, again, in the last 4/10s of second of the game, by one point.  Then they beat Wisconsin, then they beat Florida to go to the Final Four.  And if they win on Saturday (against VCU), they will play, again, for the National Championship on Monday!!!  Un-freaking-believable.

 Now what gives this situation such amazing POW! Power, is not JUST because it is an Indiana team, playing the Indiana Way (although that would, normally, be enough to get me crazy excited).  And is not JUST the Fairytale, Big Screen script that is being written here.  No, the thing that puts enough fuel in my tank to get me to escape velocity is the fact that my nephew, Jack – the oldest son of my favorite brother (okay, my only brother) – is a student at Butler.  So, in a real sense of the term, I Have Skin In This Game!

 So, for those of you who are still reading, that is why I just had to write about this.   And I hope you will forgive me if it has been completely irrelevant, or makes absolutely no sense to you at all.  But I had to write this anyway.  Because I am so out of site, over the top, amped-up about THE BIG GAME coming up on Saturday!  That’s why. We tell them, homework helpers you’re starting out on your journey


  1. Marc Jenner says:

    Nice blog Michael. I can assure you there is at least one other basketball fan in the City, and I have thoroughly enjoyed this quite ridiculous NCAA tournament. Butler’s story is indeed an incredible one, but I do fear for them this weekend . However, if having beaten a super strong Pittsburgh, I see no reason why they can’t go all the way.

    This run is similar to the ‘fairytale’ experienced last year in the Europe League for my beloved Fulham, when they shocked the footballing world by making their way through THREE qualifying rounds, before going on a crazy run to the Final which included a heart stopping game when we beat the mighty Juventus 5-4 on aggregate having at one point been 1-4 down.

    In summary, sports brilliant isn’t it?

  2. skee says:

    What an astute look at the NCAA tournament …finally a blog worth reading. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO DAWGS!! WIth love your only brother Skee

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