Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sports Talk: Who will own 2014?

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Mar. 26, 2014.  
Back on New Year's Day I pondered over who the year 2014 would belong to when it came to this state's great college rivalry. I think this Friday beginning at 9:45 p.m. will be the determining factor.

For the second time in three years the Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals will square off on the ultimate stage: the NCAA Division-I basketball tournament. While this time it may "only" be in the Sweet 16, as opposed to the Final Four in 2012, I think Cats and Cards fans will agree that victory claimed will be just as sweet.

Every tournament game always matters for a team. Whether you are a number one seed or a 16, fans, coaches and athletes all yearn to keep advancing. (And what I think UK and UofL fans can agree on after this year's seeding is that the seed is arbitrary and arguable.) At the same time, for Kentucky and Louisville fans, the December match-up is oftentimes equally important, so combining the two means this red and blue state is going nuts with anticipation this week.

Everyone knew the meeting was a possibility with the setup of the brackets, but aside from the truest UK fans, most felt the odds were questionable with undefeated Wichita State in Kentucky's path to the Sweet 16. However, what has been arguably the most exciting tournament game thus far puts our Wildcats in a rematch with the Cardinals.

While Kentucky took down Louisville in their previous season meeting, the Cardinal team saw more success in the late regular season. However, the Wildcats we saw last weekend look hungry for a championship.

Speculation over how things will pan out in Indianapolis could go on for days, but the bottom line is it's anybody's game. Not only is it tournament time but it's the biggest rivalry game this tournament will see. Kentucky pulled it off in 2012 and went on to become national champions. Will they do it again?

As a fan of all teams of the Bluegrass, I'm excited to know that one of our teams will be advancing to the Elite Eight, regardless of Friday's game; however, who will I be cheering for? Louisville.

While I am so happy to see Kentucky coming on strong after having some disappointments this season (and I would be cheering for them in any other game), I feel much more invested in the Louisville team. I admire the hardcore Kentucky fans who are not just on the bandwagon on the good days. For the sake of those fans, I want Kentucky to win, because YOU deserve the win. But when it comes to the guys playing, who deserves the win more for their devotion to their school and program? My vote is Louisville and I want to see those guys advance. It's not about "Louisville" but about the individuals. I feel attached to the guys on the UofL team. I want to see those guys--Russ Smith, Luke Hancock--advance. For me, there is such a difference in cheering for a team simply because of the colors they wear compared to cheering for people and what they mean to you.

When the day comes that these two teams face each other in the tournament again and both teams have a group of guys taking the court who have been wearing their colors proud for multiple seasons, well, I guess I'll be an individual divided. For now, though, I'll just be living in a house divided... No, not my husband and I. We'll both be cheering for the Cards... But our 5 month old daughter only has a UK onesie so I guess she will be repping the Cats for us. Somebody's got to, right?

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