THE GAME: Kentucky vs Louisville
My five favorite sports, in order, are baseball, college football, the NBA, the NFL, and college basketball.
However, a couple of decades ago, college basketball was at the top of that list.
This often surprises people when I tell them, seeing as how baseball and college football constitute 95% of the sports that I talk about these days. (I suppose it could be argued that baseball and college football constitute 95% of everything that I talk about these days.)
The main culprit is the one-and-done rule. To summarize for those of you who are not familiar: in order to be eligible to be drafted into the NBA, a player must be at least 19 years old and more than one year removed from the graduation of his high school class.
In other words, players can no longer go directly from high school to the NBA. As a result, players who have zero interest in playing college basketball - and even less in attending classes - enroll in a university for a few months, take the absolute minimum level of classes, play the college basketball season, and then drop out of school to prepare for the draft as soon as the season is over.
It has nothing to do with the "college" aspect of college basketball. But I'm not getting on a high horse here; that's not the part that bothers me. College sports is big business, I accept that.
What bothers me is that there is no continuity from one season to the next. If your favorite team has good players, they'll most likely be gone the following season.
When I was in junior high, I watched Ed O'Bannon and Tyus Edney play as freshmen for UCLA. The team lost in the Elite 8, but all I could think was Wow, it's gonna be fun to watch those two guys play together as seniors.
Three years later, they won the National Championship as seniors.
That kind of thing will never happen again. If your favorite team has a great freshman, it is a 99% chance that he will be gone the following season.
And that's why college basketball does not mean nearly as much to me as it used to.
That being said, Kentucky vs Louisville is always fun to watch. Like North Carolina-Duke, Michigan-Michigan State, UCLA-Arizona, and Syracuse-Georgetown, the tradition of the rivalry transcends any disenchantment I've had with the sport.
Throw in the fact that they're both top-10 teams at the moment, and it had all the makings of being the best game yet of the young season.
NOTES ON THE FOOD:
- I love Worcestershire sauce. When I was a kid, I used to dip pieces of cheese in it and eat them with nothing else. (To be honest, I still do.) There are only a handful of things I love more than Worcestershire sauce.
- Wine and pepper happen to be two of them. When I noticed a few months ago a Worcestershire sauce made with those two ingredients, I immediately bought a bottle.
- I mixed a quarter-cup of the sauce into a ball of ground beef, flattened it, and grilled it in a pan.
- I spread a little mayo on a bun, added a healthy shake of even more sauce, and adorned the patty with Bubbies pickles, which have quickly become my favorite pickles.
- As with the bacon cheeseburger I made the other day, this was relatively simple, but bursting with flavor.
NOTES ON THE GAME:
- The amount of talent in this game is staggering. Kentucky alone has three players (all freshmen, of course) who will probably be lottery picks next June.
- Is it possible the Lakers will finish with the #9 seed (or worse), snag a top-3 pick, and grab Malik Monk? Good Lord, imagine him and Russell in the backcourt together for the next decade.
- Louisville is in a stretch of playing four consecutive games against ranked opponents. Unlike college football, where there is a benefit to playing cupcakes, playing a tough schedule in college basketball prepares you for March Madness.
- Despite Kentucky's talent, there are far too many occasions where they don't seem all that interested in going after defensive rebounds.
- Duke's Grayson Allen got a technical tonight for once again tripping an opponent. That has nothing to do with this game, but it's always important to point out what annoying little bitches Duke players often are.
- It came down to the last shot, which should surprise absolutely nobody.