The nation's college basketball subculture is in for a shock Saturday if the University of North Carolina at Charlotte beats the maize-and-blue shorts off mighty Michigan.
It's no fun to think about this Mideast Regional championship game (at 2 p.m.) in any other way.
The mayor of Lexington today jumped on the bandwagon full of Kentuckians who suddenly have discovered the UNCC Mean Green. He gave Charlotte coach Lee Rose, who was born, bred, played and coached in Lexington, a lucky horseshoes," said Rose, looking across the luncheon dias at coach Johnny Orr, whose Michigan Wolverines are ranked No. 1 in the nation. "It's who has the horses.
"Anyway," said Rose, "I think this is a muleshoe,"
Rose did not discourage those who sense an upset. "I'll tell you something, buddy," grinned the dapper Rose, throwing his arm around the rumpled, crewcut Orr. "You're on my grounds now. They've got my mom penciled in as the alternate referee.
"These are my friends comin' out of these hills, I saw a game here once where the visitors took a shot to win the game at the final buzzer and an ol' boy whipped out his rifle and shot the ball in midair."
Charlotte, second in the NIT last year and currently ranked 16th, plans zone defense and dare Michigan, a 5-to huddle back in its fetal-position point favorite, to win from outside. "Y'all better have your radar tuned in," teased Rose.
"Well," countered Orr, who has the posture of a human question mark and would look baggy-needed in a $300 suit, "I've never seen an many defenses as I have since we were picked this year for No. 1. Zones, presses, matchups, box-and-ones.
"I got the team now to the point where they don't know what the other team's doin' and they don't care. We play our way regardless. If things go don't think my life is going to change."
McGuire's Warriors reached the regional final with a 67-66 comeback victory over Kansas State Thursday night. During the second half of that game the coach was slapped with a technical foul.
McGuire said afterward he was not yelling at th official - Bob Wortman - but at his team. Then he proceeded to rant about what he alleged to be NCAA brainwashing of officials. He said the NCAA has psyched referees into calling technicals against him during tournament games.
"I'm still worked up about it," McGuire said in an interview today. "I tried to bicycle it off this morning, bit it didn't work. I'm sorry I said what I did. No, wait a minute, I shouldn't say that. I'm not sorry at all."
Wake Forest coach Carl Tacy sat bemused during McGuire's remarks today and then said he thought his team had the right chemistry for tough games.
"We have a good blend," said Tacy, "I think this team has plenty of talent and right now it has a lot of confidence, I think we can match up physically with Marquette."
Marquette, 22-7, will rely on the inside work of Bo Ellis and the quickness and shooting of guard Butch Lee, Wake Forest, also 22-7, will match Ellis inside with Rod Griffin and hop to counter Lee outside with Skip Brown.
"I would say the game is a push," said McGuire. "The games we have played in the tournament so far would indicate that.
"Both teams had high rankings at the first of the year and I would say we're about equal. Tournament games are decided by substitutes, injuries and who makes the last shot. Of course, we should not have beaten Kansas State in the first game. We were just lucky."
McGuire no longer does the day-to-day coaching of the Warriors. That's left to No. 1 assistant Hank Raymonds, who will take over McGuire's job next season.
"I didn't watch the Wake Forest Southern Illinois game," said McGuire. "I left that to coach Raymonds. He does all the work. At the half against Kansas State Coach Raymonds said, 'Let's put in Jim Dudley.' I said, 'Who's Jim Dudley?'"
Dudley was instrumental, along with Ellis and Lee, in a rally that brought the Warriors back from 10 points down to catch the Big Eight champion Wildcats.