Generally a fan unwilling to overlook any opponent in any sport I follow closely, I celebrate this day with extreme reverence, for today the Louisville Cardinals shall battle the Depaul Blue Deomons in the game of basketball.
I had danced around the idea that it was impossible for Louisville to lose to Depaul for some time before finally embracing it fully in 1999. It was in that year that freshman walk-on Quentin Bailey completely outplayed eventual Conference USA Player of the Year Quentin Richardson in a 71-68 Cardinal victory.
Any and all doubt had been removed.
Still, further proof came two years ago when Juan Palacios - who entered the game having scored a total of ten points in U of L's last four contests - hit eight of ten shots and dropped 21 on the Blue Demons in a 59-50 victory for the then struggling Cards. Not only was JDP hitting open jumpers, he was effortlessly putting the ball behind his back on the fast break, doing double pump dunks, making no-look bounce passes and various other things that he would be able to do against no other opponent.
Now the "record books" show that U of L actually lost overtime games to Depaul in both 2003 and 2004, but the games weren't nationally televised and I was out of town, so I don't believe for a second that either of them actually happened.
Ordinarily, the last seven halves the Cardinals have played would leave me wary of any opponent waltzing into Freedom Hall, but on this morning I feel no fear. Jerry Wainwright's club could be leading the Big East and pegged as 28-point favorites across the board, and I'd still take U of L...big. As it is, the Blue Demons are making a serious run at streaking through the conference season winless.
We'll scrutinize the effort, speculate on whether this performance exhibited progression or regression, but make no mistake about it, Louisville will win this basketball game.