So, this post was going to be a part of a sponsored campaign, but it looks like we're not rolling with it until next week when, well, this post will be dated. Never mind. We need to get unrealistically optimistic for a few hours before tip, in any case. Have at it, Horns fans. BELIEVE.
You wouldn't know it spending any amount of time around us Texas fans, but this is that peak of excitement behind all those November-December dreams of glory. For Longhorns fans, the fall from the No. 1 ranking to a No. 8 seed has been trying. Anyone who's been asking us if we're excited to Dance has likely been met with an icy stare. "What's the point? The music will stop any minute, anyway."
Sadly, that's not at all melodramatic.
Like always, many of us will force ourselves to push Texas deep through our brackets, even as we can't help but believe the music really is going to stop early for the ‘Horns -- against Kentucky, if we manage not to trip and fall in the opening act. It's not that fun to think about - let alone try to write about - so I was actually really glad when this opportunity arose to write a sponsored post. Though I wouldn't have been surprised to have received a pitch from Weed-Corley-Fish to participate in their "Are You Prepared For Imminent Death?" campaign, good news Longhorns fans: everyone else knows that this is supposed to be a time of excitement and wild optimism, which is why they're associating themselves with 'Anything's possible!' posts.
Count me in, because heading into this tournament what we really could use is a volley of reasons to get excited. To believe that there might be March magic for us this year, too. So let's brainstorm a list of reasons to be optimistic, ignore whether they at all correspond to reality, and charge into this tournament with reckless abandon.
PB: ARE WE AFRAID OF KENTUCKY?
BURNT ORANGE MASSES: NOOOOO!!!!
PB: ARE WE AFRAID OF KANSAS?
BURNT ORANGE MASSES: NEVER!!!!
PB: WHO DO WE WANT??!
BURNT ORANGE MASSES: THE LAKERS!
1. Down and on the brink of out is actually the preferable way for this team to enter the tournament. No, Texas is not a No. 1 seed in Houston, but should we be so sure we're not better off the No. 8 seed in the East? How well did things go the last time we had a No. 1 next to our name? Hmm?
Do we not get to play the ‘chip on our shoulders' card now? After a yearlong lack of leadership and unity, mightn't a disrespectful slap to their collective faces be just what this team needs to pull together at the last possible moment, just in time to achieve their full potential? Isn't this standard operating procedure for superheroes and their happy endings? (Hero rises to the top. Hero faces major setback. Hero appears down and out. Hero revives at last minute to save the day!)
2. Success will now taste that much sweeter. No one likes a juggernaut meeting its expectations. Who besides USC fans was rooting for the Trojans in the 2006 Rose Bowl? And how much sweeter was our win because no one believed we could do it? For that matter, how impossibly amazing was that game because Texas trailed 38-26 with six minutes remaining in the game?
How much fun was Florida basketball's repeat national title in 2007? It was awful, as the Gators snored through the regular season, turned on their jets in March, and pistol whipped the field when it mattered most. By contrast...
After all we've been through, can you imagine how you'd feel if Texas made a run through the East Regional to get to Indy? Can you imagine how Rick Barnes would feel? How great would it be to see him run around the court like a lost Jim Valvano? Even better, how great would it be to see Chris Ogden do the same?
3. If you know where to look, there are hidden signs everywhere, and they all say one thing: this is the year of Texas. True believers respond to downturn by engaging reality in hand-to-hand combat. What's that? That's a great way to wind up with David Koresh? Um... Baylor just beat Texas for the fourth straight time in basketball. I'd say he was vindicated.
There are signs for this Texas team, too -- some easier to spot than others. Obviously, Tournament Tom Penders upset run through the C-USA Tournament was the big one a lot of us were hoping to catch. Big break for us there, and of course it's a double bonus since we'll pick up the huge energy pocket coalescence as we fly over Houston on the way to New Orleans.
Slightly less obvious, but a sign I suspect many of you already have picked up on: Texas' potential second-round battle with No. 1 seed Kentucky would be when? You guessed it: six years to the day after UAB upset No. 1 seed Kentucky in the second-round of the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
I'll be perfectly honest with you: I'm more worried about Wake Forest than Kentucky at this point, so abundant are the positive signs for Texas defeating Kentucky: Yes, it's nice finally to know how to feel about Derrick Rose's injured wrist (big break for Texas). No, it is not a coincidence that a quarterback from Austin just delivered the city of New Orleans its first Super Bowl ever. And yes, most exciting of all is the fulfilling of The Prophecy: I'm almost embarrassed to admit I thought the Bradley-Wall showdown was to be a marquee April event -- in retrospect, the signs were right there in front of us all along. This is as it was meant to be.
DON'T YOU FEEL BETTER NOW?
I know it's been tough to get excited about this team lately, but hey, even if it takes a nudge from a corporate sponsor to remind us to have some fun with this thing, let's roll with it. You know, just in case the basketball gods throw us a curve by sending us home early. (Prophecy says no way. Just sayin'.)
So let's open up the floor for your reasons to be blindingly optimistic. You're free to tell me about the adjustments Rick Barnes is going to make, but I recommend something a little more realistic.
Reasons to feel great about Texas' chances tonight, and in this tournament: Go.