What a wonderful story. New Orleans is once again the center of the sports world. This time, it’s basketball not football. Right after the New Year, I wrote about my experiences in The Big Easy in this column. I was back in Nawlins a few weeks later. It was pretty amazing to be in the city right before the Sugar Bowl and right after the BCS Championship game. The town seemed to have amped up its energy.
Despite the bad press coming out of the Saints’ camp right now, the city continues to prove it is the comeback kid. Hurricane Katrina truly destroyed the area. The idea of hosting sports championships, championship teams and more was so foreign when the levees broke years ago.
Now on the eve of the 2012 Final Four, New Orleans is on display for the sports world to see. It truly is a wonderful host and backdrop for a championship weekend. The city has great food, history, lodging and of course, hospitality.
The people of New Orleans and Louisiana as a whole, need these big events. They showcase the resolve of those residents that stayed when others left. They showcase the businesses that rebuilt. The eyes of the world will be on the Superdome, the very improved Superdome.
So the visitors will come from two towns in Kentucky, a big city in Ohio and a small one in Kansas. They will all descend on the city on the lake to watch three basketball games that have the potential to be extraordinary.
Louisville vs. Kentucky has so many back stories, it’s a sports’ lovers dream. A sportswriter’s one too. Kansas vs. Ohio State matches two big schools from two big conferences. It certainly has the making of a heavyweight prize fight. With these two early games, it’s possible the championship game may not be the best game of the weekend.
Sometimes I am very good at predicting the outcomes of games. I am probably one of the few sports columnists that doesn’t bet, but I will tell you this, the big winner of the Final Four is: