As you can tell from our seasonal basketball-themed header, the bloggers loitering around these parts hinge college basketball season on the success of pretty much only 2 teams. Myself and 2SL being the orange ones, with Ron, Eday, BobWicket and TheW bleeding blue.
That makes tonights game in Lexington quite the important matchup.
We can look at this season and see how this might not add up to a great game on paper, but it doesn’t take all that much digging to find sparks of rivalry and tradition between the 2 teams. From the days of the Ray Mears/Adolph Rupp mutual loathing to the passing of the orange jacket (around DeVoe and over Houston, O’Neill, Green, and Peterson) to Bruce Pearl, this rivalry–while admittedly once dormant for a few decades–has all the heat and passion of the late 70’s… maybe more.
After all, Tennessee is the border-state school with the more recent Sweet 16 birth, the more recent SEC-East Championship, and the shiny new refurbed arena… all to the scowl and dismay of Big Blue Nation.
Over the weekend, TheGoldfishCowDad (who attended UT in the Mears’ Years) brought up a great point. Not only does Bruce look a bit like Ray, selling the program in a circus-esque marketing whirlwind and sporting the orange jacket… but the thing that really gets under the skin of the Cats: Bruce, like Ray, wins against them… and that, you just don’t do.
So yes, I’m sporting a brighter-than-usual orange glow today as I head to work in the heart of BBN, donning a power T on the lapel of my jacket, and taking barb after barb from friends and colleagues alike. But that’s okay. All that means to me is that the game is important again.
So tonight at 9 PM as I sit there between an orange-clad 2SL and blue-hatted SmoothRon, know that win or lose, Vol-Cat basketball matters again.
Oh, and if you happen to be sitting behind me in Section 28, plan on standing all night. And yes, that beer-smell is me.