As I sit here sifting through the ashes of my brackets after what can only be described as the closest thing to Armageddon in the world of College Basketball, I smile and laugh at my failure to see what was coming. When I was 21, I would have had more than my fair share of alcohol and drown my sorrows over the mountains of money I had lost by being a complete fool in the face of simple logic. The world has gone mad. I should have seen it coming.
UNC, UCONN, Indiana, UCLA, and Arizona are sitting at home. Cornell, Northern Iowa, and St. Mary's are in the Sweet Sixteen. Next Thursday, Mark Coury, he of the Coury Flurry fame will be facing his former teammates in the next round of the NCAA Tournament. The young man who by his own admission, left big-time basketball to find a school where he could get his education furthered, and still get to play some ball. All of our reminicing about what we had last year at this time aside, we have to accept the inevitable. Kentucky is going to win. The Basketball Gods have come down from Mt. Naismith, and have placed thunder in the hands of an 18 yr old boy, and lightning in his friend's pocket. I know we all have been anxiously watching to see if our young men were real, or just playing with our emotions as young teams sometimes do. They are real. This tournament is not going to be decided by logic or the "smart" bet. Freshmen don't win championships. They don't have the discipline to make the right decisions at the right time. Their leader is a "wanna-be" Hall of Fame coach who can't keep a Final Four. They are short tempered, undisciplined AAU players who will crumble when the pressure of real tournament play is thrust upon them.
See, what no one was counting on, what no one could see coming, was that these kids were bringing their friends to the party with them. They travel in packs like wolves. They pick each other up when they stumble. They hide their friends around the corner, and when you try to jump them and assault their weaknesses, someone else rears their head. You may try and push and shove your way into their psyche, but you wont like what you find when you get there. It is a single-mindedness of purpose, an unwavering belief in themselves, because frankly, no one else thinks they can overcome their shortcomings to succeed. You see their leader is Merlin, an unrivalled magician and slight of hand expert. They show you their left, and while you are watching the show, they hurt you with the right. Merlin has cast a spell upon them to make them believe that they cannot be beaten by anyone other than themselves. He has placed Excalibur in the hands of the young men and watches to be sure they are pure in their quest. King John, Sir DeMarcus, Sir Patrick, Sir Eric, and the rest of these young Knights of The Round Table, are on a quest to restore the glory to Camelot. You see, it became a broken city not too long ago. What was once a haven for the blessed and ubertalented among the young men of college basketball, became simply another castle, with it's walls of stone, standing tall but gray in the world of many castles.
But now, after battle upon battle, Camelot is once again a shining light to the world which it reigns over. The walls have been brightened, the gates are shining gold once again, and it's spires once more reach into the heavens to allow it's citizens to stay close to the benevolence they once brushed aside, claiming it to be theirs to do with as they please. They no longer take that for granted, they have learned their lesson. And should they experience a momentary lapse in judgement, Merlin will gently remind them. He will gather together the Knights of The Round Table in a new quest. A cause most noble indeed. Because you see, in Camelot, the Knights are not only judged by their achievements, they are judged by their actions, how they attend to the needy, how they place others above themselves. And in that respect, this newest incarnation of the Knights has no equal.
I should have known this was coming, and I should have seen it long ago. After all, the world started spinning backwards last Thursday. Who knew?