Every day there are three things, none worth devoting an individual post to, but each worth at least mentioning.
1) This is my favorite week. I'm pretty pumped for this week, in part because I'm headed to Arizona on Wednesday morning for an annual spring training trip, and in large part because the week leading up to Selection Sunday is my favorite week on the sports calendar. I was going to do a longer, stand-alone post on how much I love "Championship Week," but I realized that I've already done that, so you can go here or here to get that incredible sports take.
My fiancee and I went to dinner on Saturday night. Having accumulated a few Montgomery Inn gift cards, we decided to go to the Boathouse and go big. The main course - ribs - was obviously fantastic, but the highlight of the meal was the Crostini appetizer and the wedge salad. I'm an appetizer guy, they set up the main dish, whet the appetite, and at the end of eating them, there's more food. At the end of a main course, there's a bill. I always like what comes first. Christmas Eve night. Beers at the Grail before first pitch. Foreplay. I like the setup, the prelude, the anticipation. I also like watching one-bid leagues get the spotlight for the night, a potential in for NKU this year, and college basketball games being played by desperate teams on my TV in the middle of the afternoon. I get all of those things this week.
2) The Bearcats. Another stand-along blog I was going to write was a post-game appreciation post of the 27-4 season the UC Bearcats are having after they dismantled UConn in Storrs yesterday. Then I realized that it was 2:15 in the afternoon, the weather was beautiful, and that I was better off spending my Sunday finding a place that would allow me to watch an NBA game outside while enjoying a cigar. So all I contributed to the internet was this.
I know that we as college basketball fans, and specifically we as UC fans, have been fixated on how far the Bearcats can go, and exactly how deep they can advance will ultimately determine how successful we deem this season to be. That's how it works, even if that's how it shouldn't work.
But I hope UC fans have paused at least a little bit to think about how hard it is to go 27-4 (and how hard it is to lose just two conference games and not win a league championship. Way to compete, Memphis), how much fun this team has been to watch, and how this program is absolutely cooking right now. A seventh straight NCAA bid, a likable team that's exceeded expectations this season, a promising roster returning next year, the new arena on its way, a coach who's highly unlikely to depart and shake this all up. Regardless of what happens over the next few weeks, it's a damn good time to be a Bearcats fan.
I was asked on Ken Broo's Sports of All Sports on Channel 9 last night what kinds of opponents could be UC's Achilles Heel in March. You could argue that teams with exceptionally athletic ballhandlers or bigs that were great on the glass could be their undoing. I actually believe that UC's biggest potential enemy is itself. When they play with the looseness and confidence we saw yesterday, and that we've seen at home all season, that combined with their defensive prowess makes them hard for anybody to beat. When they lack aggressiveness and stand still on offense, they shrink their own margin for error. We'll see.
Yesterday though, even against a really bad UConn team, was encouraging.
3) The Norse. Northern Kentucky University's men's basketball team is two games away from an NCAA Tournament bid. After last night's Horizon League quarterfinal win over Wright State in which they made 14 consecutive shots, the Norse are the highest-remaining seed in the conference tournament, and they absolutely look the part right now of a team that could win out and punch their ticket, in their first year being eligible for the tournament.
How cool would that be?
And how much fun would it be for an already loaded college hoops area if within their league, the Norse became a power?
I don't see any reason why that shouldn't happen.
Radio Show: 3:05 today on ESPN1530. James Rapien is furiously working on guests, and I'm going to work on taking a nap. Then we'll do a radio show. I hope you listen to it.