Last year at this time, I was still reeling from Maryland's miraculous run through the ACC Tournament, culminating with their comeback win over Duke in the championship game. Honestly, that entire weekend was better than anything ever. It beat winning the national championship, as that was expected and this most certainly wasn't. It even beat the victory over Stanford that sent the Terps to their first Final Four ever back in 2001. It was one of those moments in life when you sit there smiling, wondering what you did to deserve something so amazing. It was an incomprehensibly glorious feeling.
Just a few short days later, I was on a plane heading with my best friends to Las Vegas for the first three days of the NCAA Tournament. I just rewatched the video that Randy assembled upon returning from that and it nearly brought a tear to my eye. It reminded me of just how good a time we actually had, even with Maryland losing to Syracuse and my sister Colleen losing ONE THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS on the North Carolina/Texas game (yes, I said it, ONE THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS--forgive her, she was drunk).
Three hundred sixty five days later, I stare at the 2005 brackets and Maryland is nowhere to be found. Oh, wait a minute, there they are, on page 29 of the sports section, playing Oral Roberts on Wednesday night in the first round of the N-I-Fucking-T????? Is this an unfunny joke or something????? Or a really bad dream????? Is this really happening????????
To make matters worse, there is no trip to Vegas this year either. I'm too broke to make that happen.
But none of that matters. The past four years contained the greatest run Maryland fans have ever witnessed--1) First Final Four, 2) First National Championship, 3) Drew Nicholas' first round buzzer beater, 4) The ACC Tournament--and that can never be taken away from us. The higher the high, the lower the low. Corey Haim said that, right?
There is also the realization that this looks to be one of the most wide open (with the exception of Illinois) tournaments ever. I am not working and have nowhere to be this Thursday-Sunday except in front of a television with friends, watching games and experiencing pure, total drama. For those of you that think this sounds gay, I feel sorry for you. Saturday's Memphis/Louisville finish was more emotionally devastating than the last twenty-five films I've seen combined. A star freshman, standing all alone on the free throw line, no time left on the clock, three free throws awaiting him, his team down two points, needing this win to make it to the tournament, swishing the first, turning to the home crowd and flashing a grin, then barely missing the second, the tension mounting, down one with one shot to go, the entire season on the line, that confident grin now gone, but if he hurries up he can defeat the insecurity and send the game into overtime, and so he goes through the motion and lets the ball go, the ball flying through the air, the ball bouncing off the rim, the ball bouncing to the ground, and then the star freshman, pulling his jersey over his face, collapsing to the ground, unleashing a scream that is heard through the television, tears pouring, a season finished, a teenager traumatised for months to be sure, but who will eventually recover and use that experience to become an even better player. At least I hope so.
Anyway, watch Randy's video if you haven't. And while you're at it, revisit "Wholly Fucking Fan," which says it better than I ever could...