It's my time of the year. Yes, like most of you, I'm a college football man first, but right behind, I do love me some March Madness.
And It's here. Nothing beats the upsets, the "discovery" of oustanding coaches and players that just plain got away. All three will happen, we just don't know who they are yet.
Normally, the conference tournaments mean something. An upset gets you to the NCAA's and we know they can happem anywhere, anytime.
But going into this one, barring a key injury in the league affairs, the national tourney looks pretty cut and dried.
Now don't fly to Vegas and get a ticket guaranteeing this, and they may be put in the same side of the bracket, but most folks would tell you they expect Kentucky-Syracuse for all the marbles. I agree.
I saw Kentucky play up in Auburn back in January in a game they could have been had, but they are so long defensively, you have to work hard for every single point against them. Plus, while never a John Calipari fan, I think this might be his best coaching job. I know, he gets a list of prep all-americans in recruiting every year, but this team didn't play well together when I saw them. I thought it was a matter of time before they would, but not this good.
I think Anthony Davis is the best individual defensive player in the country, and he's shown it down the stretch. Calipari can't go very deep on his bench, but the seven or eight-man rotation has worked out nicely.
Then there's Syracuse. Almost certain to join UK as one of the No. 1 seeds, they've evercome the Bernie Fine controversy and continue to play they most confounding zone defense in the country. Jim Boeheim's a veteran NCAA coach who has won it all, and he's capable of taking this team to the title too.
So what do you do, concede it to them? Well, maybe not.
First, there's how important to Kentucky Davis is, and if you're smart, you let him have his 10 blocked shots in exchange for five fouls. You take it to him, hope he's too keyed-up early and get a quick two or three on him. Then you make him play tentative and hope the rest of the team doesn't shoot well.
As for Syracuse, you try and get a basket or two in transition early, setting the tone that it's going to take 60-65 points to win the game. They want a much slower pace, a lower-scored game that gives them the chance to set the tempo.
Now there are five or six other teams that could win it all. You know there's going to be a Cinderella -- Murray State's a good option -- and somebody almost emerges from the rock-nosed Big 10, plus there's Missouri, Kansas, Duke and Carolina.
But there's usually 15 teams that could turn the trick and I just don't get the feeling that's the case this year. Let's get these conference things out of the way and stick our big-boy bracket on the refrigerator. It's that time of the year, only this should be even better.
Phil Paramore's column appears Tuesdays in The Dothan Eagle. He can be heard weekday mornings from 7-9 on AM 560 WOOF, FM 100 FM or at www.woofradio.com. He can be reached at the same website.