Here we go again, the 39th NCAA tournament appearance for the University of Louisville basketball team, the fifth most appearances among all participants. Back where the most profitable college program belongs.
U of L has been to the pinnacle twice, winning two NCAA championships. So fans, especially the older ones, can be forgiven if they envision their team cutting down the nets one more time. The odds of that happening are remote, but that makes the fantasizing much more fun.
That head trip would include a fast start out of the gate this weekend, making it to the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8, and … another game with the University of Kentucky, this one in the Final Four, the semifinals in New Orleans.
Louisville becomes the fourth Big East team to knock UK out of the NCAA over four consecutive seasons, sending the Wildcats back to Lexington wondering what hit them. Their fans finding reasons to rationalize the loss before going after John Calipari’s hide. U of L fans ready to bestow sainthood on Rick Pitino.
Keeping things in perspective, recognizing the rivalry with UK as an emotional sideshow in the overall scheme of things, this Louisville team quickly pulls itself together two days later and wins the ultimate, a third national championship.
An unlikely scenario maybe. But U of L raised the expectations bar several notches with that surprising Big East Tournament championship. A feat that was deemed impossible by anyone and everyone not associated with the team.