You're busy. I'm busy. We ought to get this out of the way before your late for aerobics.
I like Duke.
I like Duke for the same reason Denny Crum likes Duke, and I'm quoting here: "They're No. 1 in the nation, and rightfully so. They do everything you'd want from a team."
I could give you other reasons why I like Duke -- social and academic reasons -- but I don't want to run the risk of casting the Duke team as the Huxtable Kids. They brought the starters to a news conference Sunday, and the presentation was so perky, chummy and wholesome it could have been the pilot for a new Michael Landon series, "Highway to Hoopville." As Johnny Dawkins, Mark Alarie, Tommy Amaker, David Henderson and Jay Bilas sang love songs to Duke -- how good, how pretty, how diverse, how enlightened a school it is -- I kept waiting for the lights to dim and the slide show to start.
They're smart kids. That's nice to see, very nice. I applaud and endorse literacy, especially on the university level. But to be fair, other good schools graduate their athletes, too. And to be real, Duke isn't here to play Louisville in the finals of "The GE College Bowl." Nobody will have to select pre-Columbian art for $500, please. I like Duke to beat Louisville in a basketball game. I think Duke is a better team. Some of the other stuff is extraneous. In a timeout, do you think Mike Krzyzewski asks Alarie, "Who's the president of Guatemala?"
Here's why I like Duke: Louisville has won 31 games, 16 games in a row; Duke has won 37 games, 21 in a row. Louisville lost twice to Kansas; Duke beat Kansas twice. North Carolina State beat Louisville; Duke beat State twice. St. John's beat Louisville; Duke beat St. John's. Louisville beat North Carolina once; so did Duke. Hardly anyone plays a tougher schedule than Louisville; this season Duke did. Louisville has lost seven times; Duke, twice -- both on the road, to a North Carolina team that was ranked No. 1 and inaugurating the Dean Dome, and to a Georgia Tech team then ranked No. 2. If you say none of that counts now, it's ancient history, then I say history has a tendency to repeat itself.
All season long I've heard people say this about Duke: "Yeah, they're good, but they're not big." Yesterday I heard Crum say, "People say they're not big. You go stand next to Alarie and Bilas and tell me they're not big. They're men." All season long, I've sensed that people were reluctant to accept Duke as a valid No. 1 team. Yesterday, addressing that very issue, Bilas said, "The fact remains we're not an intimidating-looking group. I think Jim Boeheim said it best. He said, 'They don't look good. They don't match up well. They just beat you.' Hopefully we can just beat you one more time."
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let me ask you a couple of questions: Where's Georgetown? I got so accustomed to seeing the Hoyas in the Final Four, I've just assumed they were here again and the only reason I hadn't heard from them was that their locker room was closed. Also, what does Denny Crum use on his hair, lacquer?
I trust that even though I've told you the winner, you'll still watch the game tonight. You people in bars, you're on your own. I've got some tips for those of you who'll be watching at home:
1) If your neighbor either wears a flea collar or insists on doing the play-by-play in Norwegian, do not let him watch with you.
2) Keep a phone handy. There's a downside. In the last two minutes, someone -- probably some bozo who dated your cousin Frieda in high school -- may call, trying to sell you insurance. Get rid of him. You have to keep the line open in case President Reagan calls. He always calls someone after a championship game, and since the networks are no longer giving him free airtime, he may call you. It's a local call, right?
3) Dress for the game. It's a college game, so you'll have to paint your whole face the colors of your favorite school; that's de rigeur. Think of it as subway graffiti for the upwardly mobile. Some people think this is a new trend. Actually, it was started by that old set-shooter, Cochise. Remember now, that the game is being played in Dallas, one of the real nouveau cities. In Dallas, culture and tradition can be summed up by the phrase "more gravy." You have to dress Texan: boots made from the skin of a weird or endangered species; string tie; cowboy hat; belt buckle so huge you have to bring a note from your urologist to buy it.
One final thing. At the end of the game, you're going to want to do the things the coaches do: hug someone, and cut down the net. Don't make the mistake Jim Valvano did a few years ago. He didn't designate someone to hug and ran around the court endlessly, like Little Bo Peep who'd lost her sheep. Make sure you have a huggee close by. The net? You can make it out of dental floss. Look in any drawer of your house and you'll find some. You Yuppies, you can use pasta al dente. I know you have that.