|Big three college basketball teams have me feeling like it’s the 80s again|
|Written by George Browning|
|Wednesday, 04 January 2017 10:58|
I was born in 1972 and I did most of my growing up in what I consider to be the greatest decade – the 1980s!
The music was funky, the clothes were awesome and the women’s bangs were at an all-time high.
In our region, another thing the 1980s had, was successful college basketball teams. There was rarely a poll that wasn’t filled with IU, U of L and U of K.
Championship banners weren’t raised every year, but darn near.
UK won a title in 1979 and U of L and IU went back-to-back in 1980-1981 and 1986-1987.
Throw a few more final fours in the mix and the argument of the strongest basketball region was clearly the Ohio Valley.
We had Hall of Fame coaches, Denny Crum, Bob Knight and Joe B. Hall, top of the line arenas and rabid fan bases.
College basketball was popular everywhere, but for a young boy growing up in the Bluegrass we were at the center of the sports universe.
Not a lot on that list changed in the 1990s – except the disappearance of championship banners.
Kentucky finally changed all that with two titles near the end of the decade, but they were standing on top of the hill all by themselves.
Louisville wouldn’t return to championship mix until 2013 and IU still seeks its first final four appearance in more than 15 years and only its second since Coach Knight retired.
As I watched the Hoosiers topple the Tarheels from North Carolina recently, for the first time since I was a teenager, I felt safe to say, U of L, UK or IU all have the potential to cut down the nets this year.
Having this our return to being the center of the college basketball universe has me feeling like it’s the 1980s again – so much so I thought I saw on the news recently Steve Alford singing Kentucky the blues (UCLA blues that is).
Kentucky will be fine. They don’t play IU – Dick Vitale is convinced the Cats and Hoosiers will eventually come to an agreement to resume the series and a win over the Cardinals next week will allow Big Blue Nation to put Alford and the Bruins in their rear-view mirror.
Barring major injuries, or scandals, when March Madness rolls around the Cards, the Cats and the Hoosiers will all be mentioned as possible Final Four participants.
Heck, with friendly pairings, two of the three may even crash the party, but the minds behind the brackets usually find a way to stick two of the three in the same bracket.
Outside of the “Big Three” the thing that does and always has separated this area are the “other programs.”
Butler is good this year, Western Kentucky seems to be rebuilding, Notre Dame and Xavier aren’t in our back yard, but they are close enough for us to claim them.
Purdue is also a top 20 team this year. When they were at the YUM! Center the other night playing Louisville, I saw Denny Crum and immediately went to the PU sideline hoping to see Gene Keady back on the bench.
I rushed to the calendar to check the year, but I snapped back to reality and saw 2016, and instead of Crum and Keady there was a Painter and a Pitino calling the shots for their respective teams.
In recent years, I haven’t started to really ramp up my following college basketball until mid to late January, but this year is different, I find myself stopping every night to see what’s going on.
The 1980s were a long time ago, but the way our college basketball teams are playing, has it feeling like there is a basketball time warp going on!