Sunday, March 23, 2014

Farewell to the Colonels

One of the things we like about basketball is that no other sport gives smaller programs so many chances to take on the big boys.  The Nashville Sounds are never going to play the Yankees in a game that matters, and UT-Martin can't play in the Rose Bowl.  But in theory, any of more than 350 colleges could win the D-1 basketball title.  And even if they can't win the title, they can at least go head-to-head with the biggest names in the sport.

On Friday, Eastern Kentucky got their chance to play Kansas -- and they were great.  The Colonels made 12 three-pointers, and ran their offense with a beauty and panache that gave the Jayhawks all sort of trouble.  With nine minutes to go, EKU and Kansas were tied at 59, and the Colonels had the nation's attention.

Of course, Kansas is a truly great team, with a hall of fame coach and a bevy of potential pros.  They cranked up their defense to a new level, and EKU cooled off from the outside, and KU survived 80-69.  But it was a great and noble effort for an EKU program that had a wonderful year.

The Colonels finish with a record of 11-5 in the OVC and 24-10 overall.  The won the OVC Tournament with a 79-73 win over Belmont, and they gave Kansas fits in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.  That's a great year.

Four of Kentucky's six eligible teams have now been eliminated from the battle for the NCAA Title.  Two teams -- UK and U of L -- are still dancing.

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