Mar 31, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Anthony Davis (23) celebrates after defeating the Louisville Cardinals 69-61 in the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball Final Four at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
I watched the Kentucky Wildcats play the Louisville Cardinals while sitting next to a group of about 20 Louisville fans (in Seattle!). There was also one Kentucky fan sitting directly behind me. This made for a semi-enjoyable experience.
As for the game, which Kentucky won 69-61, it unfortunately turned out exactly as I feared.
Shocking announcement...this was the first time I had watched Kentucky all season. And I have to admit, I get it now. There were times when I felt like I was watching a group of men playing a group of boys, which is crazy since the "men" were mostly freshmen. But seriously, I get it. There's talent and then there's TALENT.
That said, Kentucky's glaring weakness is that they take their foot off that gas. They should have won that game by 20 going away. They got complacent and they just started to expect to maintain their big lead, which probably usually works for them but isn't good enough at this level. I expect them to win the National Title, but I could see Kansas taking advantage of a lackadaisical Wildcat lull as well.
As for Louisville, they played most of the game terrified. Real talk, you guys. The first fifteen minutes of the game and the last ten minutes of the game, they played like a team afraid to not do something, anything in order to avoid the onslaught they knew was coming. So many errant shots. So many rushed passes. So many awkward plays. It was like watching an entire team made up of fourth-year Scoop Jardines.
I know this sounds crazy but the worst thing that happened to them was tying the game up early in the 2nd half. Up until that point they had started to settle down. But once they tied it up and realized they had a shot, all that fear and loathing came rushing back in and Kentucky went right back up by 6.
Could Syracuse have beaten this team? I honestly think they could have, at least with Fab Melo. If given ten tries, I think Syracuse could have beaten them three, maybe four times. The zone would give them fits (Yes, Charles and Kenny, it would have). Without Fab, I don't think we could have contained Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist in the long haul.
Of course, we'll never know. And Louisville's orange uniforms gave us no small comfort in the real loss.
As for Kansas beating Ohio State, I didn't watch it but in a way I find myself surprised to actually prefer this. I thought I was pulling for Ohio State because I hate Kansas but I think now that I realize it doesn't matter who plays Kentucky, I'd rather Ohio State lose cause, you know, they beat us. The jerks.
Back to those Louisville fans and lone Kentucky fan for a second...
I found the Louisville group to be, gasp!, a normal group of sports fans who rooted for their team loudly throughout and didn't give up until the bitter end. They handled themselves well. Except...Louisville fans have one of those spell-out-the-word cheers. They go "C-A-R-D-S, Go Cards!" and it's really, really annoying. I think it's the tone in which they say it. It's very low and monotonous and grates on the ears. Also, they didn't enunciate all that well so the first couple times I thought they were saying C-A-I-B-S and I was left wondering how IBS played into things. Maybe that's what Louisville basketball causes.
As for the Kentucky fan, she was obnoxious, rude and got louder the more evident it became that UK would win the game (after spending most of the game mumbling her cheers to herself). She also had no idea the game was actually over until the players were mid-way through their post-game handshake. She was everything I expected a Kentucky fan to be.