Over the next four days, Lexington and the surrounding commonwealth are all about the 40.
That means 40-0, which would constitute a perfect season for the University of Kentucky men's basketball team. In order to accomplish that, the Wildcats would have to beat Wisconsin and then, in the title game, Duke.
Well, OK, maybe UK would have to beat Michigan State in a title game, but you know that if you're a Kentuckian you want Duke, because you are still, 23 years later, smarting over that Christian Laettner last-minute shot in 1992 — the one sports channels, CBS in particular, seem to delight in torturing us with by showing it over and over. It will be 40 years later and Kentuckians will still want Duke.
What other great 40s are there? Let us list nine of them, because if the Cats complete that 40-0 season, they will also win Championship No. 9:
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9. Forty, as in how many ounces are in that bottle of malt liquor; there are also canned 40s, but those who love them a 40 want something to smash in the streets that they may show the depth of their team loyalty and their disregard for pedestrians and automobiles. The jumbo malt liquor is popularly called "a 40" and sometimes spelled "4awty" on that cellphone on which you suggest getting one with a friend.
Use it in a sentence: "I bet some of those partiers over on State Street laid in a bunch of 40s before the UK-Notre Dame game."
8. Another urban usage of 40 is the religious use of the number as being representative of ultimate spirituality.
Use it in a sentence: "On Easter, I go to church to get some time with The Forty. Then I plan to go home and pray that UK gets the 40."
7. More religion: Rain engulfed Noah and company for 40 days and 40 nights. Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Lent, the period before Easter, lasts for 40 days.
Use it in a sentence: "You don't see anybody in Kentucky giving up basketball for 40 days for Lent, do you?"
6. Negative 40, the only temperature in which Fahrenheit and Celsius are the same.
Use it in a sentence: "Kentucky this winter was in a constant state of approaching negative 40 on both measures of cold. We must have had 40 inches of snow in February and March; UK basketball's perfect season alone kept me from succumbing to cabin fever like Jack Nicholson in The Shining."
5. The U2 song 40; a story connected with the recording of the song holds that the group worked out the arrangement, recorded and began to mix it in 40 minutes, which is the same length of playing time as a college basketball game.
Use it in a sentence: "This is a bit of the 40th Psalm, which inspired Bono to write this song: "I waited patiently for the Lord/And He inclined to me and heard my cry/He brought me up out of the pit of destruction/Out of the miry clay/And He set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm/He put a new song in my mouth/A song of praise to our God/Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord."
4. I-40, the interstate used to get to Durham, home of Duke University.
Use it in a sentence: "That I-40 drive is about as twisty and dark as the heart of (Duke coach) Mike Krzyzewski."
Speaking of Coach K, 40 years is how long Krzyzewski has been coaching. He started at Army in 1975, moving to Duke in 1980.
Use it in a sentence: "Mike Krzyzewski has been coaching for 40 years, which must have seemed even longer because he had to coach Christian Laettner."
3. How about 40 points, which is what Kansas scored in its Nov. 18, 2014 game against UK, in which the Wildcats scored 72. That was the lowest point total for the Jayhawks since Bill Self took over as coach in 2003 and the worst of the team's 2014-15 season, which ended in a 13-point loss to Wichita State on March 22.
Use it in a sentence: "When UK beats a team like Kansas by 32 points and holds it to 40 points, you think, why not beat every opponent by 32 points?"
Alternative for 40 points: why that would be about the right margin over Duke in the championship game. It's not impossible: Jerry Tarkanian's University of Nevada-Las Vegas team pounded Duke by 30 points, 103-73, in the championship game in 1990.
Use it in a sentence: "Four points would be OK for the Cats, and even two was OK in the Notre Dame game, but wouldn't a 40-point victory be especially sweet in closing a 40-0 season?"
2. Forty: the dividing line between youth and old age. Christian Laettner passed 40 five years ago, and is now officially An Old. Just look at him lying in that hammock in those silly AT&T commercials.
1. And finally, American Top 40, the beloved radio show that counted down the hits: Shouldn't UK's 40-0 season spawn a song? Who among you can remember the 45: The Ballad of Adolph Rupp, the 1972 record with the Wildcat blue label that proclaimed: "The name of the game/is basketball Kentucky style/The name of the team/Is Wildcats, they're for real." Suffice to say, it probably was never a long-distance dedication.
Don't believe us about this ethereal poetry? Here's the link: http://bit.ly/1MugKKl.
You may need a 40 when you're done.