1. This is the first year where I've made zero attempt to hide the joy that UK being knocked out of the tournament has brought me.
I'm not sure if it was the enthusiasm over a many they once ridiculed, the fact that they were so up after a string of frustrating seasons or that this was all taking place while the U of L program was going through a rough 12 months, but Kentucky fans have been maybe five times more unbearable over the past calendar year than they have been at any other time in my life, and that's saying a great deal. At least the poorly-worded emails, the poorly-worded twitter messages and the poorly-worded comments on this website have provided some entertainment.
Since the loss (which marked the sixth time in eight years that the Cats have seen their season come to an end at the hands of a team from Louisville's conference), Big Blue Nation has been playing the "look at where we were a year ago" card early and often. It's understandable, but it doesn't change the fact that a team that was ranked fourth to start the season, possessed two first team All-Americans and (probably) three lottery picks, attained the No.1 ranking halfway through the year and entered the tournament as the No. 2 overall seed couldn't lead the program back to the Final Four for the first time since '98.
I don't doubt that Calipari will have the Cats geared for another deep run sooner rather than later, but the stars rarely align the way they appeared to for Kentucky this postseason, and I'm very surprised (and glad) that they won't be cutting down the nets in Indy a week from tonight.
2. John Flowers may have just become my favorite non-Card.
I am so glad that this will be the lasting image of the John Wall Dance (created by a Louisville fan).
3. Kentucky also earns the unfortunate distinction of being the only team really hurt by the selection committee's oddly set-up bracket.
More people than not thought that West Virginia, not Duke, would snag the fourth No. 1 seed. Instead, the Mountaineers somehow ended up as the two seed in the bracket of the tournament's overall second seed.
Kentucky basically had to beat a No. 1 seed to get to the Final Four, and that shouldn't have been the case.
4. Between Izzo, Huggins, Coach K and the kid from Little Big League, it's anyone's guess as to who's going to draw the biggest media following in Indy.
5. This is the first year I can remember not picking any Final Four teams correctly.
6. Butler has an honest shot to win this thing, and I think the enormity of that potential event hasn't really sunk in. A Horizon League team from middle America capturing college basketball's national championship in an era where the disparity in budgets would seem to make such an occurrence impossible would be one of the better sports stories of all of our lifetimes.
The fact that their coach died at the beginning of the season and left the team in the hands of his 10-year-old grandson only adds to the allure.
7. First bet I made in Vegas: a bullet on UTEP over Butler moneyline.
8. Congrats to Card-to-be Elisha Justice on nabbing both a state championship and Kentucky's Mr. Basketball title.
Pretty sure a student is chanting "we want Justice" inside the new arena as we type...or read.
9. I've been holding off on any "this tournament is one of the best ever" proclamations for fear over Kentucky ultimately winning it, but now I have no problems saying this has been one of the most entertaining and exciting tournaments I've ever had the privilege of following.
I can't believe they pried the recap duties from poor Teddy's cold, dead lunges.
10. I'm not sure Jennifer Hudson has any idea that a hurricane of ridicule courtesy of cheesy sports fans the nation over is headed her way.
11. While the day-after Tom Izzo slurp-fest is definitely warranted, I think casting him as the greatest coach of the modern era while completely ignoring the amount of luck it took for this year's squad (which was labeled an underachiever heading into the tournament) to still be playing is a bit disingenuous.
New Mexico State was over-seeded, the Spartans should have beaten Maryland by double-digits instead of on a buzzer-beater, Kansas would have boat-raced them, and Izzo has made a career out of taking care of teams as undisciplined as Tennessee.
The man's one of the best in the game, no doubt, but the line between genius and product of good fortune is more fine in college basketball than just about any other sport.
12. The BCS sucks.
13. Gus Johnson represents all that is right with the world. Verne Lundquist peaked 15 years ago (who the hell is Happy Gilmore?) and needs to go ahead and call it a career.
14. If you're on Twitter, find Josh Chichester and follow him.