I almost hate to break into Holy Week with something so mundane as my sporting interests, but. . .
My Spartans are back in the Final Four, for the seventh time in Coach Izzo's 20-year tenure. This has got to be the most improbable of all his Final Fours, or any of the others in the history of my alma mater (both of 'em). We graduated a decorated group of players from last year's team, and this had all the earmarks of a rebuilding season. We just didn't have the kind of players that make deep tournament runs (I mean, heck, we lost to Texas Southern in December - at home!). Even as late as February, there were serious questions as to whether our string of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (this is our 18th) would be coming to an end this year. But things came together in the waning weeks of the season, and we made a solid showing in the conference tournament.
We got a 7th seed in the NCAAs, which seemed a tad low, by the time we got there (but only a tad; I thought we deserved a 6th seed, or maybe a 5th). We duly won our first round game, and then threw a complete defensive blanket over Virginia, a highly-ranked team who won the regular-season championship of the vaunted ACC. In the next two rounds, we came from behind in both games to pull out gritty, hard-fought victories.
And now we are in the Final Four. Again. We play Duke this Saturday, and we don't exactly have a long track record of success against them (Coach Izzo's teams have beaten Duke exactly once in nine tries); and they hung a ten-point loss on us back in November, just to reinforce the point. But, you know, that was then, and this is now. And even if we should somehow beat the Dookies, Kentucky is looming, and the conventional wisdom says that nobody can beat Kentucky this year. But, you know, once you get to the rarefied air of the Final Four, you never know what might happen. And no matter what happens, it's been a heckuva ride already. So, we shall see what we shall see. . .
And, just for fun, there's this. . .