About halfway through the 2nd half of last night's epic Villanova-Pitt regional final (but before Verne Lundquist referenced it), I thought to myself:
Good god, I can't remember a super-meaningful (ie, regional final, Final Four) game this good since... no, couldn't be!... the Duke-Kentucky regional final in '92.
Then Verne referenced it, and -- though it was inelegant to have to actually make the reference when that's what we all were thinking anyway -- it confirmed it:
We were watching not just an "instant classic," but one of the greatest NCAA Tournament games of all time -- worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Duke-Kentucky '92.
I'm not saying it's better than Duke-Kentucky '92 -- the mythology around that game has had too many years (nearly two decades) to build upon itself.
Folks will be loathe to say that last night's game is in its class the mere morning after. (Half the folks: "Among the best Tournament games ever!" Contrarians: "Meh. Nova needs to win it all.")
Again: No one is suggesting it was better than Duke-Kentucky. By the way: Fans under 25 or 26 don't even have a memory of that game, so stop being a fogey by being over protective/nostalgic about it.
(Sidebar: Dan Levy said this last night on Twitter -- 17 years ago? I feel old. Tell me about it: I can't decide what makes me feel worse -- that the game was 17 years ago or that it being 17 years ago still puts me at 19 years old when it happened. I wasn't even a "kid"...yeesh.)
So it's not better than Duke-Kentucky '92... but it is right up there among the top handful of games played since Duke-Kentucky '92. And that's not nothin'.
Anytime a game inspires us to say "Well, it reminds me of Duke-Kentucky '92" (with or without Lundquist's qualified prompting), then we have watched an extraordinary game. And it was.
It's funny how you can have 57 games that were all relatively unmemorable -- particularly in the second-weekend rounds -- then have a 58th game that will define this tournament:
"Remember that Nova-Pitt game?"
Tournament Challenge Update: I'm in the 24th percentile. (Maybe I shouldn't have bounced out Villanova in the 2nd round, eh?) Barack Obama is in the 39th percentile.
And if both of us had used the good old "Pick By Higher Seed" method, we'd be in the 92nd percentile -- and that's WITH 3-seed Nova beating 1-seed Pitt.
As I had Syracuse beating UNC in the regional final, I will surely drop even further today, when everyone else likely collects their UNC-to-Final-Four points and I don't.