March Madness is a bigger deal in Kentucky than Christmas. Many outside the Bluegrass State may think that the running of the Kentucky Derby is a bigger event, but they would be wring. Sure, the Derby is a huge deal. But it’s one day and done. March Madness is more like a holiday season, without the annoying too-early end-cap displays and music.
March Madness comes around just when it should. And with it, the fevered dreams of how it might all go down. Brackets get filled out, then busted. Bets are lost, hearts are broken, and friendships are made and lost.
But this year, March Madness has put a smell in the air that Wildcat and Blue Devil fans have not sensed in years.
The upcoming Final Four games pair Duke against Michigan State and Kentucky against Wisconsin. Seeing those teams listed so close to each other on one page is exciting enough. But every citizen of Big Blue Nation knows what that could mean. With all respect to Wisconsin and Michigan State, the lure of a UK-Duke showdown is too exciting to dismiss.
But what if it happened? What if this March Madness season sees a battle royale of these two teams?
If you don’t live in Kentucky, you may not understand the depth of this. While many think that the rivalry between the Wildcats of UK and the Cardinals of U of L is the biggest thing going, that pales in comparison to the animosity that UK fans hold for the Duke Blue Devils.
We won’t review here the sordid tale of the Laettner Stomp. But the passions the mere mention of Duke elicit run deep. The old cliché of having two favorite teams — UK and whoever plays Duke — is true in Wildcat country.
This is a genuine concern for Lexington residents. When the Cats win, there is much revelry and partying. Couch-burning has become the go-to activity when celebrating wins. The Lexington authorities have already taken the preemptive step of banning all “indoor furniture” from being outside in certain areas of Lexington during the entirety of the NCAA tournament.
If UK plays Duke for the championship, one of two things could happen:
UK could win. In which case, there will be fires and mayhem.
UK could lose to Duke. In which case, there could be days of fires and mayhem.
While the thought of a UK-Duke matchup is tempting, for the safety of everyone in the Lexington area, I gotta hope Michigan State meets us on April 6.