I have an eerie calm for some reason.
Honestly, I was more jacked up, more worried about North Carolina’s games against Duke in Cameron Indoor and Louisville in the regional final last week.
While I’d like to say that I’m not as fervent a Tar Heels’ fan today as I was when I was at the university — and to be perfectly honest, I’m not, but it has more to do with Dick Baddour than maturity — and that that’s the reason I’m not visibly shaken as the hours of the Final Four’s tip draws near, I realize that’s not it.
Don’t get me wrong, Kansas scares the bejeezus out of me. The Jayhawks go about a million players deep, and they are flat-out stocked in the backcourt with enough athletes to give Ty Lawson and Co. fits. They can run, and as they proved against a tough Davidson team, they can grind out a victory, too.
Even if you go position by position, you can make a case in each where the Jayhawks could have the advantage. That’s not to say that Kansas has better players than Carolina across the board, it just means that on any given night, the Jayhawks can conceivably win the pivotal one-on-one battles.
With that said, you would expect me then to be losing sleep and staring at the ceiling going through each matchup, going so far to wonder which injury hurts more, UNC’s Bobby Frasor or KU’s Rodrick Stewart.
But that’s not happening this time around. It happened when the Heels won it all in 2005, and it happened last year in the regional final against Georgetown. Not this year, though.
Of course, this will probably all change as soon as the ball is tipped, and you’ll be able to follow it all right here as I write a diary of the game. And I can certainly see myself kicking things and cursing before the game even gets under way, as if I’m playing or something.
But I think in the deep recesses of my mind and even somewhere there in my hoops soul, I realize that this one is a tall order. I was at Carolina through a three Final Fours in four years stretch, and each national semifinal loss was crippling to the point that I couldn’t even bring myself to watch the title game. To this day, I still hold Shammond Williams personally responsible for shooting about 3-for-4,256 in two of those games.
This is different, though. This wouldn’t be a fourth-seeded Arizona loss, a Scotty Thurman-led Arkansas loss or a triangle-and-two-employed Utah loss.
This is the first Final Four with all four No. 1 seeds still standing. This is a Final Four with the same four teams that were ranked among the top four in the preseason basketball poll. These are the best four teams in the country, hands down, no questions asked. A loss here, there’s no shame in that.
I’m dying for Carolina to win, even though Ronnie Chalmers was really good to me just 21 hours before the tip. I’ll be coming in to work early to make sure I can see enough of the game on a 13-inch TV that predates even the thought of hi-def. And I know — I just know — that none of this serene feeling will still be around come 8:47 p.m. Saturday.
It’s the feeling after the game, though, that may be different.
Then again, maybe not.