I've been out on the road, which makes catching NCAA games rather difficult at times. However, given my locale this past week, it's impossible to ignore what's been going on as the tournament wound down to the Final Four.
Why? Because I'm in Tennessee.
This is the first time I've ever been in a contending city during the NCAA finals, and Memphis is pulsing with anticipation and pride. Over toward Knoxville, I expect Vols fans are out in full force, as well.
However, there ain't no party like a Memphis party.
Hand-scrawled messages of support are everywhere. Fans sport t-shirts and hats, painted faces, and even signs. All this on the day before the game, in a relatively quiet section of town.
On Beale Street, the backbone of blues, proprietors are gearing up for a big night tonight. The Lousiana Mojo Queen had Silky's rocking, dedicating song after song to the boys on the court.
Tonight may be the one night of the year on Beale when the crowds are more interested in the game than they are in the music.
There is nothing quite as intoxicating as the surge of hope fans and players feel when victory is within their grasp. I've felt it myself as our high school team clinched provinical titles, felt Calgary vibrate on its run to the Stanley Cup. Don't even get me started about Rider Pride leading to this year's Grey Cup victory.
This is different, though. This is more like my own high school experiences, because these kids are running on pure heart.
Yes, some of them have big scholarships, and others know that the professional scouts are watching closely. Right now, that doesn't matter.
What does matter is that Kansas and Memphis walk out on the court tonight ready to give their all.
Me? I'm going to be sitting in a bar somewhere on Beale, drinking beer and cheering on the Tigers with all the local fans.
Win or lose, it's guaranteed to be an entertaining party.