My Two Cents: Simple Cure For Not Being Sad Tonight With No NCAA Title Game
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The COVID-19 pandemic has literally changed everything about our lives. We can't leave the house, can't see family, can't do any of even the most basic of our usual routines.
There's no sports either, and that's been really strange. It's so odd being home all day — and all night — and not having games to watch. It's so weird, especially come Monday night, when the NCAA tournament championship game was supposed to be played in Atlanta.
For Indiana fans, we've played in six of them. And every year, even if we're not it in, we still watch, because it's college basketball, Tonight, there is no game, and that will make us sad.
But I'm here for you, folks. I'm here to get you through the night without missing it one bit. Instead of longing for a basketball game, flip to a movie or Friends re-runs instead.
And how? Well,, just close your eyes and imagine this:
Imagine a championship game between Kentucky and Duke. And when you do, you know darn good and well that you wouldn't want to watch that,
It doesn't get any worse than that for Indiana fans. Preparing for this story, I thought long and hard about the potential options that would make Indiana fans feel worse than they always do, and I kept coming back to this one.
Kentucky, of course, was the no-brainer, because that hatred runs deep and has only gotten worse in the past decade now that the rivalry has been stripped away from us because John Calipari refuses to return to Bloomington after the "Wat-Shot'' and subsequent court-storming.
And Duke, pretentious Duke, seemed like the obvious second choice, just because they've worn us out through the years.
Would those two be your most nightmarish matchup?
The only thing worse to me THIS YEAR would have been Kentucky-Kansas, because the evidence is very clear that Kansas has been cheating and they've been caught red-handed, despite Bill Self's spin on the FBI and NCAA investigations. That would have made me sick. I at least respect Duke's Mike Krzyzewski — a lot, actually — and I've got no respect for Self.
What about the others? I might be different from many of you in that I do root for Big Ten teams when they're in the Final Four. A rising tide raises all boats, right? I think it's a bad look for our league that we've gone 20 years without winning a title.
I've rooted for Tom Izzo and Michigan State when it has been in the Final Four. Been jealous too, of course, because Izzo has turned the Spartans into what the Hoosiers were during the 1973-1992 Bob Knight Final four era
I rooted for Michigan when it made its run to the 2013 national title game, but that had more to do with my neighbor and fellow Lake Central grad Glenn Robinson III being on that team. From a personal standpoint, I really wanted him to get a title that night, when they lost to Louisville in the final.
One exception, of course. In the 1993 NCAA final between North Carolina and Michigan, and absolutely rooted for the Tar Heels. I wasn't a fan of the Fab Five and how it got put together — all of that came out later — but that night I did not want to see them win a title. They didn't win anything — No Big Ten, no NCAA, were 1-3 against the Hoosiers in those two years — and I liked that.
I absolutely rooted for Bo Ryan's Wisconsin teams lately when they've made Final Four appearances. In fact, my favorite game of the past decade in college basketball was Wisconsin's win over unbeaten Kentucky in 2015. It preserved the Indiana 1976 unbeaten mark, of course, but it was also Kentucky. Watching Kentucky lose is almost as much fun as Indiana winning, especially when the Wildcats are favored to win it all.
It was a shame that Wisconsin didn't win it all that year. After that Kentucky upset, they lost to Duke in the finals.
See? Duke again.
You may have noticed that I have left one arch-rival out of this conversation. I haven't brought up Purdue in that title game scenario, and there's one very good reason for that. It's not because I don't want to bring up all those old lines — five banners to none, no Purdue Final Four in 40 years, the most Big Ten titles with NCAA gagging that usually follows — no, that would be wrong.
I left them out of the conversation because of one simple number — 1,507.
What's that mean? Well, it's been 1,507 days since Indiana has beaten Purdue in a men's college basketball game and, of course, that will grow a couple of hundred more days before the two rivals meet again in 2021.
There's really no room to talk in that rivalry right now, so I'll choose to stay silent.
So when Monday night rolls around, find something else to do. Sure, we miss basketball, but it could be a lot worse, too.