Anybody who reads anything I write on National Review, anything I post on Twitter, or anything I say on either the Ordered Liberty podcast or The Editors knows that I strongly prefer NBA basketball to the NCAA. I think the NCAA is unjust and exploits its student-athletes. I think the product on the court — undercut by bad rules, bad play, and rotating rosters of “one-and-dones” — is often not much better (and often less fun) than good high-school basketball. All other things being equal, I’d rather watch better basketball. So I’m an NBA zealot.
But tonight, forget all that. Tonight my alma mater, the Lipscomb University Bisons, will battle the mighty Texas Longhorns in the finals of the NIT tournament in Madison Square Garden. This is David versus Goliath stuff. A small Christian university against one of the largest public universities in the United States. That’s 51,000 students versus 3,000. That’s daily Bible classes versus daily keg stands. And if Lipscomb wins, it will beat the second-most-important UT in the nation. (University of Tennessee is of course the most potent UT in the land.)
If you want a primer before tonight’s game, then read this nice piece by the Tennessean’s Erik Bacharach. And if you weren’t going to root for God’s Team hard enough, understand that not only are we underdogs, not only do we personify all that is good and right with the United States of America, we’re also the cardiac kids, coming back from long odds to win tough games in hostile territory:
The Bisons had to knock off No. 4 Davidson. Then No. 1 UNC-Greensboro. Then No. 2 NC State. All on the road.
That last game, against the Wolfpack in Raleigh, took a minor miracle. NC State had the ball and a two-point lead with about 27 seconds left, but Kenny Cooper stole an inbounds pass and knocked down a 3 to give Lipscomb a 92-91 lead. NC State retook the lead with a layup with eight seconds left, but Cooper hit another dramatic jumper with four seconds left to give the Bisons the lead for good.
It took a heck of a final few moments for Lipscomb to escape its first game at Madison Square Garden, too.
The Bisons trailed Wichita State by 11 with about eight minutes left before finishing the game on a 21-3 run. Lipscomb scored the game’s final 14 points and forced the Shockers to miss their final 10 shots.
You’ve caught Bison Fever. You know you have. So tune in tonight at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN. Celebrate with me if we win. Weep with me at the bitter injustice of a fallen world if we lose. Then get ready. Stock the fridge. Settle down on the couch. The NBA playoffs are about to start, and that’s the most wonderful time of the year.