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Traditions Like No Other

BY JOHNNY PITTMAN

The similarities are there, the landscape is vast with acres and acres of tobacco, the tea is always sweet, the natives are kind and basketball is taken seriously.

Whether a Tar Heel or a Wildcat, their share of the hardwood spotlight (good or bad) has been hard to ignore.
What Coach Rupp established at Kentucky, as the preeminent powerhouse from the 30’s to the 70’s (4 national championships) and Coach Smith shaped into the title town on Tobacco Road (2 national titles), helped shape a culture of fervor among fan bases, that resonates with passion and pride.

There have been tough and trying tests of true fandom, whether it be academic anomalies or ‘pay for play’ presentments, both have continually weathered the test of time and make the haters hate.

Why are these teams so special? Why is the Kentucky and North Carolina culture better for basketball bennies? What makes both states (one state and one commonwealth) the best? It’s not just the basketball, it’s so much more:

Best Carolina BBQ Joint:
12 Bones Smokehouse*

Best Kentucky BBQ Joint:
Old Hickory Bar-B-Q*

Best Carolina Best Carolina player:
Michael Jeffrey Jordan*

Best Kentucky player:
Anthony Davis*

Best Carolina Residence:
Biltmore*

Best Kentucky Residence:
The Castle*

Best Carolina song:
Carolina In My Mind*
Sweet Carolina***

Best Kentucky Song:
My Old Kentucky Home*
Kentucky Rain**

Best Carolina soft drink:
Cheerwine*

Best Kentucky soft drink:
Ale-8-1*

Best Carolina golf course:
Pinehurst*

Best Kentucky golf course:
Valhalla*
Today as rest and relaxation (and golf and food) are on the Memphis menu, we pause to appreciate how we both arrived. The tradition and spectacle, the BBQ and soda, the agony and ecstasy, will all be reflected and ruminated on until Sunday afternoon.

And once the final horn sounds for the Memphis Regional Final…what will the next part of this narrative be?

________________________________

*My opinion.
**The truth.
***I know it’s Sweet Caroline, but grew up singing it this way.

“Everything is determined…by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as for the star. Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust—we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”
—Albert Einstein

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