Here it is. The calm before the storm. The night before the battle begins and the troops are all gathered around the fire going over the final preparations for the impending assault. The coaches are making any last minute adjustments, but for the most part, the plans are in place and it is now time for execution. An Elite-Eight birth and bragging rights are on the line. The stage is set, for college basketball’s premier rivalry.
I have spent the better part of this week, well let me be honest, I have spent the overwhelming majority of this week, poring over every possible outcome and scenario for how this game might play out. Going through every matchup, every superstar, how Rick and Cal might strategize and in each case, come to the unfortunate truth that they are all just speculation. Hopes and dreams that our beloved Cardinals will find a way to prevail over an immensely talented group of young men, in the Wildcats. There are so many potential angles and perspectives that can be over analyzed, but in the end, execution, desire, and a little bit of luck, will likely be the deciding factors. Unfortunately for us fans, no amount of hoping, praying or begging can really change the outcome of this game. Albeit sleep better, in what has been one of the longest weeks in recent memory, but outside of that, not much else.
Lots of analyst and fans have protested the NCAA and its horrendous choice in creating the possibility (and now actuality) of UL and UK playing in the Sweet Sixteen. It was a terribly thoughtless decision. If you wanted the hype that can only be created when these two traditional powerhouses play, then at some point, someone needed to at least put them on opposite sides of the Midwest region. Had someone piped up and said “hey, this game should never happen before at least an Elite Eight” then the value of winning this game is exponentially increased. The winner of this game would and should be granted entry into the Final Four. The build-up, stress and shear monument of this caliber game, should be taken into consideration when seeding. Hopefully, this scenario never happens again. I feel genuinely bad for the loser of this game, however much less of course for Kentucky.
Now on to the game at hand. Who will win? Well, as I have said above, I have over-analyzed this game and the fact is, it’s very hard to say. No surprise there. My heart, says the Cardinals will prevail, but I try to temper that with logic. This game will be very difficult for either team. I won’t go into details because everyone has already done that, but what I will say is, I think “experience” will eventually win. The fact that most of the Cardinals have been in this situation before, stared adversity in the face in this very same building, will be enough for them to defeat the Wildcats. It might not be pretty, but I just don’t think Luke and Russ will let this team lose. I might be wrong, but my prediction for the game is UL 73, UK 67.
No matter the final outcome of this game, neither fan base has any reason to hang their heads. UK took a bunch of freshman, that didn’t play very good together and in the last two weeks of the season became a solid team. UL took a team that lost their two most integral pieces of last years Championship, a mid-year crisis with Chane Behanan, and still came together and formed one of the country’s best teams.
Seniors Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Stephen Van Treese and Tim (Wichita) Henderson, are Louisville First, Cards Forever personified. If we live up to the name on the front of the jersey and the legacy it carries, this Cardinal team will prevail. Lets do this! Go Cards! L1C4.
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