I've chronicled my difficulty with watching basketball this year. EsPN's waffling lovefest between Duke and IU is enough to make any self-respecting fan have thoughts of never watching a sport they love again. That atop of Purdue's on-going problems has made this season tough to swallow. Last night though, I embraced all of it.
The sycophantic rantings of Vitale, the awkward holding of Magic Johnson by the same character of a psuedo-expert, nervous sweating and pacing of an overhyped coach, demonstrative whining of another, unlikable thugs on one side, overly-dramatic posing on the other...this game had plenty not to like. But, it also was centered around two very good basketball teams so I watched much of it with the volume up (that part wasn't easy).
There are two things honest Purdue fans can appreciate- First, yes, IU looks like the best team in the nation right now. Their offense, talent and cohesiveness are impressive. Oladipo is a truly great college player that has a quicker first step than about anyone in the nation and is a tremendous defender...plus he's simply clutch. Zeller is a force; when IU needs a stop, rebound or bucket, he generally delivers. Around those two NBA players, everyone knows their role...Farrell is a star in the making, the girl shot guy can bomb if not guarded and Watford reminds me of Robert Horry (also clutch and steady).
Purdue fans who don't believe IU is the favorite to win the national title are in denial. They're damned good...and if it wasn't for their fanbase, nervous BSing coach and their uniforms, they'd be a ton of fun to watch...but you can't have one thing without the other right now, so things are what they are.
The Forehead is a tremendous recruiter and great motivator. He has that team pointed the same (and correct, by the way) direction. They rightfully have their sites set on a national title.
If you're like my BS counterpart, you might be confident that Crean's in-game nonsense will doom IU...right now, I'm not so confident about that. Bad in-game coaches have won national titles before...when the right guy gets hot at the right time (i.e. Oladipo) and he's surrounded by players who know their role, good things happen for that team. Plus, the formula of having two or three NBA players seems to be alive and well for IU.
I'm rooting against this with everything and hoping we're watching IU peak in February...which as we know too well, isn't really worth much at the end of the season.
It's easy to argue with IU fans about the silliness and absurdity of Sweet 16 rings and a coach that parades around the concourse following a win over a barely-ranked team. It's pretty impossible to argue the validity of a national title...especially one in the debater's lifetime.
Sure, IU fans will continue to ignore the head-to-head count or B1G titles...but I bet most of you feel like I do and would trade about any of Purdue's records for a national title in the modern era.
The scenario we're in stinks...the best we can hope for right now is that IU poops the bed in the tourney and pretty much everybody leaves town. Half of that scenario doesn't seem likely to me right now...the other half would hardly be salve in the wound.