Denver to semifinals; me to Arkansas?
In the survive-and-advance battle for a first-ever NCAA Tournament bid, it’s 1 down, 2 to go for DU.
The Denver Pioneers are headed to the Sun Belt Conference semifinals — and, as the highest remaining seed after a day of upsets, will now be showing up in people’s projected NCAA brackets — after beating South Alabama 61-50 Sunday night.
If #3-seeded Denver wins Monday night, in a semifinal that tips around 7:30 PM Mountain Time, against #7-seeded Western Kentucky (which upset #2 UALR today), I will be boarding a Southwest Airlines flight bound for Arkansas the next morning — roughly eight hours after the game ends, in fact — to attend the championship game as a member of the credentialed press. On the other hand, the Pioneers lose, I will cancel my plane, rental car and hotel reservations, and remain in Colorado. So I will leave my law firm on Monday afternoon not knowing if I’m coming into work the next day, and I will put my girls to bed Monday night not knowing if I’ll see them the next morning.
I’ve already begun packing for this potential trip, not because I’m overconfident or assuming anything, but because I simply won’t have very much time at all to do so tomorrow night, if necessary.
At this point, I should probably step back and explain to any new readers just who the heck I am. I’m an attorney in Denver, and a married, 30-year-old father of three girls under age 4. I’m not a DU alum — I went to USC for undergrad and Notre Dame for law school — nor do I have any tangible connection to the university, other than geographic proximity. But I’m a longtime mid-major basketball fan, and back in 2010, inspired by Kyle Whelliston’s Mid-Majority, I decided to “adopt” the Pioneers as “my” mid-major team, making an emotional investment in Joe Scott’s squad before the season began.
Moreover, rather than just being a fan, I decided to start up a blog dedicated to covering the team — I’ve been a blogger for almost a decade, and I have a degree in print journalism, though journalism is just a hobby for me nowadays rather than a career — and try to get credentialed as a member of the press at DU. I did that, and reported on the team at a blog called Pioneer Pulse all last season. This season, I switched over to Tumblr and renamed the site “Mile High Mids.” But the bottom line is that I’ve been “covering,” and rooting for, the Pioneers for two seasons now. So while a mid-week trip to Arkansas is mighty inconvenient, I feel almost compelled to go. It would be awfully anticlimactic, after all of that, to miss the program’s potential all-time crowning moment. So if they go, I go. Make it to the title game, and I’m there.
If you’re a Denver fan (particularly if you’re a DU student) and you’re new to the blog, I would point you first to my write-up of the Middle Tennessee State win, complete with tons of photos and some videos.
Next, I would point you to my archive of recaps for the Mid-Majority’s 800 Games Project, a crowdsourced collection of personalized, first-person recaps of games played by teams below the Red Line, i.e., “mid-majors.” A few of my recaps are of Northern Colorado games, but most of them are of Denver. Anyway, here they are.
Last but not least, you may want to read up on the history of this blog’s mascots, a pair of stuffed basketballs (or “ballz”) named DU Bally and Mile High Bally. You’ll be seeing a lot of them if you follow my coverage over the next day or two (or week or two??). Here they are tonight, with my Sun Belt bracket on my Giant Bracket Wall:
The Mid-Majority gloss and primer may also be helpful if you see references you don’t understand to things like #superhoops (3-pointers) or “The Other 24” (the mid-major conferences), among countless other inside references and jokes.
Anyway, I’ll be live-tweeting the DU-WKU game as I watch it Monday night, and if all goes well, the live-tweeting will continue as I travel to Arkansas on Tuesday. If that happens, it promises to be epic. You can follow me on Twitter at @MileHighMids (and also @brendanloy).
So those are the basics. Stay tuned and Go Pios!
P.S. I’ve also created a Twitter List of accounts of DU folks at the tourney in Hot Springs, or otherwise related to DU’s team or the SBC in some way. You can view it here. If you have any suggestions for who I should add, please leave them in comments here, or tweet them at me.