There's an insane amount of things going on in the world of Louisville sports right now, so much so that I spent the morning curled up and bawling in a neighbor's sandbox instead of trying to sort through it all. But I cleared my head, outran the world's biggest seven-year-old and am ready to tackle each and every topic dominating the collective mind of Cardinal nation.
Let's rock this.
1. Louisville faces the winner of tomorrow night's play-in game featuring Morehead State and Alabama State Friday night at 7:10 p.m. in Dayton.
Ticket information can be found right here. If you feel the sudden urge to pick one or two up for me, I'm not going to stand in your way.
2. This is the first time since its ridiculous inception that the play-in game winner won't have to travel to meet its first (not opening) round opponent.
If that doesn't say "me against the world" to the Cards, then I don't know what does.
3. We'll be rocking the same opponent breakdown style that became popular last March before every game. If there's anything else that you'd like to see this site do over the next few weeks, feel free to let me know in the comments section or with an email.
4. Thanks to everyone who emailed me this Wall Street Journal testimonial.
Most sportswriters regard Louisville's splendid small forward, Terrence Williams, as the team's general. Yet its true leader is my favorite player, an undersized, lightly-recruited guard named Preston Knowles.
Mr. Knowles averages a mere 6.3 points per game. But he attacks opposing guards with ferocity, his elbows and knees pumping up and down the court like an overactive fifth grader's. But that's not Mr. Knowles' true value. It comes from the way he inspires his teammates. They're forced to match his defensive energy or risk looking like slackers.
At least once a game, Mr. Knowles kicks off a defensive crescendo, as all five Louisville players create deflections, steals and blocks that lead to a burst of dunks and three-pointers.
It's at these moments where the beauty of the game reveals itself, with individual flow feeding team momentum. It's what animates basketball. It's what should, and doesn't, animate our public life in this time of crisis.
The metaphor isn't lost on President Obama. He says he draws management inspiration from the basketball court. Perhaps that's why I have this strange vision of our lethargic-sounding Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, jolted to action after watching the Cardinals march through the NCAA Tournament. These days the world needs less John Maynard Keynes and a lot more Preston Knowles.
He's also a pretty good shooter.
5. The Midwest is the toughest region in the tournament.
I don't have any beef with Michigan State as the worst two seed, but Wake Forest - the 11th-ranked team in the country - as the bottom four seed is absurd. I don't think the Deacs are a particularly bad matchup for us, but they aren't a team we should be forced to worry about before the Regional Finals.
Also, having to (potentially) play Ohio State in Dayton is ridiculous. I realize the committee isn't concerned with locations after the top seeds, but we're the No. 1 overall seed for Christ's sake, take 30 seconds and change the bracket so we don't have to play the state university of Ohio in Ohio in the second game of the tournament.
Siena's been my Cinderella since the beginning of the year, but the Saints are extremely overseeded at nine - I don't understand how they're a single-digit seed when the common thought was that they were out of the tournament if they didn't win the MAAC - and I can't see them topping a Buckeye team playing perhaps its best basketball of the season.
Still, when you look at the other 16 (play-in game) teams in the region, there isn't one that would beat Louisville more times than Louisville would beat it if they met 100 times on a neutral floor. The Cards handle business and they're going to the Final Four. It really is as simple as that.
6. Seeing Louisville pop up as the top overall seed during the opening minutes of the Selection Show was one of the coolest things ever.
Like a lot of users on this site, I'm too young to remember the golden era of Cardinal basketball. I grew up with Louisville being a perennial 3-10 seed and the likes of Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky dominating the No. 1 seed talk, so to see U of L being named as the first team in the field of 65 was pretty special.
It's been a hell of a year.
7. At halftime of the last two games I made a wardrobe change (pajama pants, long-sleeve grey Louisville basketball T and Cards hat) and started eating chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.
Louisville outscored Syracuse and Villanova by a combined 89-49 following each adjustment.
8. The fact that tomorrow night's Morehead State/Alabama State game is infinitely more significant than tomorrow night's Kentucky/UNLV game makes me smile. So does this.
9. I didn't really have anything against him before last week, but I'm now an unapologetic Jonny Flynn fan. His "a lot of people are going to remember who won the tournament, not who won this award" quote sealed the deal.
10. If you missed it earlier and have somehow mysteriously lost the ability to scroll down, here are the details for this year's CC bracket challenge.
11. I don't understand how the person at the head of this table knew what they were celebrating.
12. The fact that Louisville is on the front of just about every web site on the Internet is a wee bit cool.
13. This morning I saw more Cards flags flying from houses and waving on top of cars than I think I've ever seen before. What a fantastic time to be a Louisville fan.
14. Breaking news: None of the detrimental things members of the media said or wrote last week about Louisville mattered.
15. Pitino and a few of the players held a press conference at 2 p.m. this afternoon. Thanks to the C-J, you can check it out here.
16. I think it's safe to say that this haircut is a winner.
17. If your mind's on anything other than Louisville basketball right now, it's time to stop taking drugs.