NCAA Tournament Confidential: A look back at four days in Louisville

No bourbon for little Rico

Published: March 20 2012 | 12:01 am - Updated: 3 April 2014 | 2:32 pm in
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1. OK, what's wrong with me? (Don't answer that!)

I had the chance to go to the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory and passed. I walked right up to it. Even went into the lobby. But I couldn't commit the half-hour to take the tour and see how baseball bats are made.

I had the time, but not the inclination. What the heck? I kill half-hours daily. Sometimes, hours. Sometimes, 18-hour blocks.

And that's only the half of it. I didn't take the tour of the Muhammad Ali Center, either. These two museums are just a few blocks from each other, and were in easy walking distance from my hotel. NCAA tourney tourists flocked to the two venues.

But I'd rather sit in a coffee shop, eat a pastry, read the Louisville Courier-Journal, and not be on a tour!

2. I'd never been to Louisville. Never went through it, never stopped there on a flight, never got any closer to it than Bloomington, Ind.

All I saw was downtown, but I liked it. That didn't surprise me. I love going to places I've never been, big or small. So the fact I still have that balances out my unwillingness to take tours. Right?

Downtown was clean, had a lot of good local places to eat, and has a heck of a nice arena even though it has an unwieldy name, the KFC Yum! Center.

3. Marquette's Jae Crowder not only has great hair, he has great game. If you haven't heard of this fellow or seen him play, try to do so in the Sweet 16 or thereafter if the Golden Eagles are still alive.

4. Murray State's team and its fans were pleasing. They didn't act goofy, they didn't dress badly, they just came and cheered hard for a team they clearly loved. And the Racers played so hard, both in their win against Colorado State and their loss to Marquette. The latter may have been the most-ferocious game I attended all season. You wanted both teams to win if you came to the game neutral.

5. Four nights in Louisville, and I didn't try bourbon. What's it like?

6. People love underdogs. And they don't love Duke. On Fourth Street Live!, a brilliant piece of zoning by Louisville to put dining and entertainment venues in a section of a downtown street and close it off to car traffic, a big (big, big) screen TV was erected behind a stage.

While a band played Friday night, people of all ages, creeds, colors and fan-bases gathered to unite in their hopes Lehigh would upset Duke.

Oh, the joy that was shared by fans of both Kentucky and Iowa State, of Louisvillians, of people who were in town for some dull convention.

Lehigh beat Duke. We shared that experience. And we liked it.

7. An Iowa State fan told me Louisville people were being really nice to him because Louisville wants to join the Big 12. The Iowa State fan also said the Louisville people told him he won't believe what West Virginia fans are like.

8. In my job, I usually either watch Iowa men's basketball games in person or on TV. I seldom listen to their radio broadcasts, because I'm either at their game, at home, or have access to a television.

But Sunday, I was on the highway, and listened to the Oregon-Iowa game on the radio. Gary Dolphin described the Hawkeyes' 108-97 loss as being like an NBA game.

It seemed hard to believe. NBA teams play defense.


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