News and Tribune

March 13, 2014

MAY: Man vs. addiction

By TOM MAY
Local columnist

— Writing a weekly column has proven at times to be very therapeutic.

Recalling memories crystallizes the details and their importance. Sharing opinions strengthens beliefs and values. And they say that confession is good for the soul.

In starting this new series of articles, I may experience all three.

I love Indiana University basketball. The teams and the games take me back to watching television with my grandfather, and traveling to Assembly Hall with my father and brother-in-law. It speaks of Mama Bear pizzas delivered to the car door, chairs thrown across a free throw line and a donkey as the featured guest on the coach’s television show.

Indiana basketball could take up enough of my time all by itself. But there are 349 colleges in the NCAA’s men’s basketball Division I. The Presbyterian Blue Hose (I couldn’t make this up) are ranked 348th in the RPI ratings. The Grambling State Tigers are ranked at the bottom.

I would watch a game between them. At 1 a.m. Is there a recovery group for this?

My confession is simple: I am a college basketball addict. March does me in. I like to imagine the match-ups ... one team versus another. I like to weigh their strengths and weaknesses, examine their history and speculate about their future. And then I want to watch the game and see if I was correct.

The Big Ten tournament begins today in Indianapolis. In game one, the match-up will be Indiana vs. Illinois. The teams played twice this year. Indiana lost the first by three at Champaign in overtime. In Bloomington, they won by 10. This time, freshman forward Troy Williams has a huge game and Indiana comes out on top by eight.

Game two tomorrow will be Indiana vs. Michigan. These two teams have also played twice. In Bloomington, Indiana upset the Wolverines by nine. This past weekend, the Hoosiers ventured to Michigan where they lost by only four. In that one, another freshman forward, Noah Vonleh, is unstoppable and Indiana rolls by 11.

Game three will be played Saturday and will see Indiana versus the winner of the Nebraska versus the winner of the Ohio State vs. Purdue game. Whew.

Purdue can’t match up against Ohio State at any position, so the Buckeyes win going away. Though Nebraska has been playing excellent basketball for over a month, the experience and strength of Ohio State finds them overwhelmed.

Ohio State and Indiana played just over a week ago, with the Hoosiers winning by eight. Senior guard Aaron Craft is once again taken out of his game and Indiana moves into the championship game by winning by seven.

Sunday’s game will find Indiana versus the winner of the Wisconsin versus the winner of the Minnesota versus Penn State game and the winner of the Michigan State versus the winner of the Iowa versus Northwestern game.

I am not sure, but I think that was all Latin for “Michigan State.” In an event that Dick Vitale would later call “the equivalent of Moses parting the Red Sea, baby,” Indiana plays its way into the Big Dance by triumphing over the Spartans by four.

Maybe it’s not basketball; maybe I am addicted to the word “versus.”

Just to make sure, I did a Google search for the word. Did you know that versus is the name of a United States national sports channel, a 2000 Japanese horror film, a television game show and Japanese manga by Keiko Yamada? There are six musical albums with the name “Versus,” four songs and an American indie rock band.

Versus is the word used for court case citations, a certain kind of scientific graph or line chart and a computer programming language. But most importantly, versus signifies the confrontation between two competing opponents vying for victory and superiority.

Over the next several weeks, let’s share together some of classic match-ups, first in basketball, and then in life. Let’s begin a quest for meaning, Google strengths and weaknesses and search for lessons learned.

See also “verses,” homonymously speaking. Go Blue Hose!

— Tom May is the Minister of Discipleship at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He is an adjunct instructor in the Communications Department at Indiana University Southeast. Reach him at tgmay001@gmail.com