Judging by the relatively weak pulse around Card Vegas these days it's fair to say that fans are still feeling a little violated by the Johnnies. Nothing wrong with that, the Cards deflated what little confidence most folks had when they failed to show up in the Garden. UofL has at times showed us flashes of Above Averageness, enough to make me wonder who we can't beat when we play well. We've had a few big tests, and though we haven't won any of those games we've been there to the (sometimes very) bitter end.
Under the best circumstances today's game against Syracuse was bound to be a Big Game. In the current climate it has become the biggest, baddest, most important game of the year. If we go into the Carrier Dome and walk out with the win, who among us won't be completely reinvigorated and excited about our chances to not only make the tourney but to make a run. If we walk out with a loss who will think that we have the stones to beat the Hoyas, Marquette, Notre Dame and then take season finale against the Orange? I've already taken the days off work so I'll watch the games, but it will feel more like visiting a hospice than celebrating the team. If we lose a nailbiter, I'll be tempted to say: "We hung in there and still could make a run." But I'd be wrong. It would just mean that we failed to close one more time down a very important stretch.
Maybe I'm wrong, but this feels like our last chance at redemption, and a chance that frankly we are fortunate to have. We have a deep team loaded with capable players. We have one of the best big men in the conference. We have an intense coach who treats his season not as a string of wins or losses but as his family's developmental growth chart. We have decent defenders and good scoring options. The question is do we have the hunger and the heart. I'm not even going to venture a guess, but I'll know today by 3 p.m EST.
Here's hoping the cards can give themselves a shot and give us something to cheer about.
(I reserve the right to be hopeful if we lose by less than 3 - no matter how dumb that is)