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Let the Madness begin!

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By Bryan Marshall

They call it March Madness for a reason.

The NCAA basketball tournament is crazy and by far the best sporting event of the year.

It easily surpasses the Super Bowl, the World Series and the BCS National Championship game for the most thrills, biggest surprises and greatest fun a person can have sitting in front of a television all day.

For the first time, I will be taking off work for the first two days of the tournament to enjoy the matchups with two of my friends.

It beats clicking refresh on my computer every 10 minutes to get the latest scores on all the games while I attempt to concentrate on work.

It’s going to be a blast.

Being a huge, and I mean HUGE, University of Kentucky fan, this year’s tournament is especially exciting for me.

Not only do we finally have a team that is exciting to watch, but we have a team who is among only a handful in the country that could cut down the nets at the end.

Looking ahead to the bracket, there is a potential dynamite collision course set for two of UK’s most hated rivals.

If they win their first-round games, Louisville and Duke will play in the second round.

Is it possible for both teams to lose?

Pressed to root for a team, I would likely pick Louisville.

My hatred for Duke is deeply rooted and I can’t stand the sight of their coach.

Amazingly, my best friend graduated from Duke and now goes to graduate school at Vanderbilt.

I try not to hold that against him.

Meanwhile, Louisville and Benedict Pitino will never hold a place in my heart.

I will cheer for them to get stomped hard in their next game if they beat Duke.

Watching the tournament is awesome, but there is no better feeling than watching YOUR team play and win.

As a freshman at UK in 1998, the Wildcats won the national championship.

I’ve been spoiled ever since, eager to see fans celebrating the eighth title in the program’s long and storied history.

I pray that we make it back on top because watching the Cats lose cuts straight to my heart.

I feel like I just lost a family member.

I was on Spring Break in North Carolina in 1997 when UK just missed winning back-to-back championships against Arizona.

I walked around the beach until the middle of the night in disgust.

I know I should think about what my priorities should be in life, but once the Cats tip off, it’s difficult to not invest everything inside me on their success.

My prediction: UK pulls out an amazing effort by its young team and hoists the trophy after beating Kansas in a hard-fought battle.

Of course, I’ve chosen Kentucky to win every tournament bracket I’ve picked since I’ve been alive.

I was right a couple times before, so why not this time?

(Bryan Marshall is the staff writer for the Grant County News. He can be reached at 824-3343 or by e-mail at bmarshall@grantky.com.)