You knew the game was over because the announcer said it was over. That means it’s over.
“Ballgame,” Tim Brando said with less than one second left, during one of the approximately 17 last-minute sequences in which it became clear that No. 1 Virginia would fall at Louisville Thursday night.
When Brando called game, Louisville led by two points with 0.9 seconds on the clock, and Virginia had just committed a lane violation during the third of three free throw attempts, and so all the host Cardinals had to do was just chuck the ball down the court and let it bounce off someone’s head or sternum or belly or something and they would have achieved their crowning moment of the season, handing Virginia — the ACC’s best team and a presumptive No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament — only its third loss on an emotionally charged senior night etc. etc.
“I might throw it high and long,” suggested color man Mike Gminski, who had the right idea. “Don’t give Virginia any chance at all to get the ball in this side of half-court.”
Louisville’s Deng Adel lit upon a different plan, though, running down the baseline until he got called for traveling, at which point Virginia had its 17th chance to rise from the dead, at which point Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter — who entered the game with 18 three-pointers on the season — banked in a last-second heave to give Virginia an extremely casual 67-66 win, at which point I stood up in my living room and screamed something incomprehensible in semiconscious disbelief, while everyone on the Internet typed some variation of this: “March just started!” “It’s officially March!” “The Madness has begun!” “This is March!” “March. Madness!”
Or, as former Virginia star Mike Scott put it, “AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.”
Actually, Scott scraped together a far better game recap than I could offer, using just five sort-of words.
See, and I haven’t even mentioned all the other crazy stuff that happened during the last 37 seconds, which lasted about 37 minutes, including the part where Louisville was up three with 5.8 seconds left and one last free throw coming.
“One more and they’ll beat No. 1!” Brando said, with gusto.
And then Louisville made the one more to go up by four! But Virginia’s Ty Jerome got fouled shooting a desperation three-pointer with 0.9 seconds left — down four, remember, which is probably a moment when you don’t need to foul the guy shooting a three-pointer — and then Jerome made the first two free throws to draw his team within two, which set up the final insanity.
“We have a whistle, lane violation, it goes the other way, ballgame,” Brando said, which felt pretty much true. “They have run into an emotionally charged senior-night team that has outplayed them, really, at their own game,” Brando said of the Cavaliers, and that also felt true, because Louisville won the game, and we all knew that Louisville won the game, and that it was over.
So what happened next was weird.
And then all you could do was yell or shake your head or sprint as fast as you could around your neighborhood or whatever felt right.
Ok, actually forget that last one. Unless your mans name is Aaron. Or if you’re actually Aaron. Then you should probably break things off with Brittany. Or at least come clean. You don’t want to keep living this double life.
The point is: Well, choose your own point. If you’re a Louisville fan, the point is pure pain. If you’re an old-school Virginia fan, the point is that this team really does have something special and just won’t ever go away and cannot stop doing truly remarkable things. If you’re a younger Virginia fan, the point is you should still be out running shirtless around the neighborhood and not reading any of this. If you’re a casual college basketball fan, the point is that no matter how much the bad people try to ruin the game by squeezing it until shiny nickels pop out of every last orifice, it basically can’t be ruined as long as 20-year old kids are willing to do absurd and awful and wonderful and magical things on random Thursday nights, which is why we’ll all bemoan the sport’s problems and then stand in communal circles around television sets every year around this time, making the sorts of involuntary expressions of glee we don’t often make in these troubled times.
And if you’re Mike Scott, the point is “AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.”
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