May I offer some Final Four advice?
Try to enjoy it.
I know, I know, that's asking the impossible. After all, you spent last Saturday blowing into a paper bag to keep from hyperventilating. Your fingernails are gone. Kentucky's 68-66 heart-stopping win over Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional finals in Cleveland elevated blood pressure numbers to dangerous levels.
And now, I know, Kentucky is so, so close to its goal.
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Just two victories away.
The Cats are not just two victories away from the ultimate goal, hanging that ninth championship banner in Rupp Arena, but two victories away from finishing with that iconic 40-0 record.
Champions are crowned every year, but 40-0 won't be forgotten.
I get it. Stakes are high. Ridiculously high. I'm sure masochists in Big Blue Nation have already considered the "worst-case scenario" of a win over Wisconsin on Saturday in the national semifinal only to be followed by a loss to (yikes) Duke in Monday night's championship game, to be 39-0 and finish 39-1.
If there are members of the Big Blue Nation who have never viewed the world from the edge of a ledge, they might do so late Monday night. Those are the same people who would consider such an outcome a failed season — as crazy as that might sound. Even in a season with so much success, there's that fear of failure.
And yet this weekend at Lucas Oil, there are so many things to enjoy.
You should enjoy the quality of the competition. This is a big-boy Final Four. Since the NCAA started seeding teams in 1979, this is just the fifth time that at least three No. 1 seeds have made the Final Four. The last time it happened was 2008, when all four No. 1s won their regions. Then you have to go back to 1999, 1997 and 1993.
You should enjoy the quality of the matchups. For example, Kentucky-Wisconsin is just the second time we've ever had a rematch of the national semifinals of the previous year. It's an added bonus that last year's one-point game was decided by a Kentucky three-pointer in the final seconds.
If Kentucky has waited all year to avenge its loss in the national championship game, Wisconsin has waited all year to avenge that Final Four loss to Kentucky.
You should enjoy this weekend because we are not likely to see a run like this again, even those of us who follow the program with the most victories in college basketball history. This is Kentucky's fourth Final Four trip in five years. Rick Pitino didn't do that. Joe Hall didn't do that. Adolph Rupp didn't do that, although the Baron did win three titles in four years:; 1948, 1949 and 1951. At the very least, this is Kentucky's most remarkable run since then.
You should enjoy this because it will definitely be the last time we see this particular team together.
The players have remarked on that, especially lately. The fact that this unit has scored so high on the likability meter, that they have meshed with not even a hint of strife or conflict, is rare for any program, but especially one that lives in such a famous fishbowl.
This weekend will be the last time we'll see Willie Cauley-Stein, the heart and soul of this team, in a Kentucky uniform. This is probably the last time we see Karl-Anthony Towns, possibly the No. 1 pick in the next NBA Draft.
Even if various Cats return — players do return at Kentucky — they will be part of a different collection and configuration. Things change. Time marches on.
Maybe that's what made last Saturday so nerve-wracking and why a fan base is collectively holding its breath about this weekend.
"I think last year, we were just excited to be there," said Aaron Harrison, UK's sophomore guard, when asked to compare last year to this. "This year we're not going to be satisfied with just the feeling. We're just going up there to win."
Of course, for Big Blue Nation, that would be the most enjoyable outcome of all.