Hoops galore

Something remarkable happened this morning. I got up at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday and went to the gym, so I could be in prime position at noon. In the recliner, remote in hand, TV listings in the actual newspaper my parents still subscribe to beside me.

It's a smorgasbord of college basketball today, from noon to 10 p.m. ACC and SEC, conference tournament semifinals, men's and women's. Games that matter greatly and games that matter mainly to the participants. Games that will have major NCAA tournament implications or determine conference tournament seedings. Games that will do neither of those but may end on a did-you-see-that buzzer beater, a last-gasp shot from halfcourt, an inbounds play run to perfection with 1.2 seconds left.

Did you see eight seed Austin Peay upset top seed Belmont 97-96 in last night's Ohio Valley semi? It was one the best games you'll see this month - or this year - featuring two of the most impressive individual performances this season. Belmont junior forward Evan Bradds poured in 32 points, shooting 15 of 16 (!) from the field. Austin Peay senior center Chris Horton, the nation's leading offensive rebounder, countered with 30 points and 16 rebounds. The game came down to the last second, when a Belmont basket that would have won the game did not beat the double zeros on the clock.

The Governors (17-17), who overcame a 19-point deficit in the quarterfinals, will play for the OVC championship tonight and the first automatic NCAA bid. It is the only way they're going to the Big Dance - a trip that could not have been more unlikely four days ago. They play UT Martin, a team that has never been to the tournament. In 24 years of Division I play, the Skyhawks have made one NIT appearance, losing to Auburn in 2009. Governors versus Skyhawks. That’s just a thing of beauty.

Does any of that matter, in the grand scheme of things? Probably not. Is it silly to expend so much energy watching kids play a game? Possibly. But Donald Trump is probably going to be the Republican nominee for president of this country and Pat Conroy is dead, so seek your comfort where you may. I know where I'm finding mine.