Final Four. Jayhawks. It's happening, Baby.

This year's ride with the Jayhawks just gets better and better.

I was parked on the couch at 4 this afternoon for the Kansas-North Carolina, and nothing else mattered for two hours.

Against Purdue, it was Elijah Johnson. Friday night, it was Jeff Withey to the rescue. And today, Tyshawn Taylor finally showed up to play.

Welcome to the NCAA tournament, Tyshawn, tweeted Seth Davis at one point after Taylor hit a big shot for the Jayhawks.

Given Kansas' recent success against the Tar Heels and their former leader Roy Williams, I was fairly confident going into the game ...

And I'll say this to all the people who might blame North Carolina's loss on Kendall Marshall, who didn't play because of the injury he suffered earlier in the tournament: I believe, no matter the sport, that teams earn championships by not only playing well but by staying healthy. By overcoming adversity. The stars must align. North Carolina's star point guard broke his wrist and the Tar Heels' game arguably suffered. Bottom line: Kansas was the better team today.

Still, that's not to say this game wasn't a stomach-churner like those of the last week. There were 13 lead changes and 15 ties before Kansas finally put the squeeze on North Carolina.

My heart was racing and my mouth went dry for that last minute-and-a-half.

My friend Wren tweeted ...

What an unbelievable game! I don't want it to end.

To which I tweeted back hastily ...

I want it to end -- with a KU win!

Finally, it ended. With a KU win.

In a fast-paced Midwest Region final that was tight throughout, Kansas scored the last 12 points to win, 80-67, at the Edward Jones Dome. The top-seeded Tar Heels collapsed down the stretch, missing their final nine shots and 14 of 16 in the face of a Kansas triangle-and-two defense ... (The New York Times)

Kates was away at a church choir rehearsal, and Phoebe had been playing in her downstairs play room for most of the game. ... But she understands my love for the Jayhawks and joined me on the couch for the final minute or so.

As the clock ran down, I stood up in front of the TV and began clapping and cheering. Phoebe joined me and for several seconds we danced around the living room together singing KU's praises. With similar emotions to that epic night of the 2008 national championship -- the baby who was already pulling so heavily on my heart that night, and now a KU-winning bracket for the child on the way -- I caught myself in the moment with my eyes welling up a bit.

Not long afterward, Kates arrived home to Phoebe and I now resting on the couch. Kates looked at me wide-eyed and asked "Did they?!"

"They did. Jayhawks in the Final Four, Baby!" I said with my arms outstretched over my head.

(Updated: 03.26.2012) Good reads ...
a KU returns to its identity as it reaches Final Four
a Self has shaped the Jayhawks into muscle
a First Look at the Final Four
a Postgame Interviews, Some Net Cutting and a Sweet Homecoming

On top of the Kansas win, the only thing that would have made a better cap to my spring break week would have been watching tonight's “Mad Man” Season 5 premiere.

Unfortunately, Kates and I lost track of the show during Season 4 when our TV blew up, and we're still working to get caught up. Distractions like graduate school and baby preparation have made it a little more difficult than we’d like.

No comments: