The Colts are out, the Bears didn’t make it in, and I’m not a Pacers fan. The Hoosiers are rebuilding this year and I’ve never been crazy about Purdue. (The brother-in-law of an ancestor owned the land and laid out the plat for Lafayette, Indiana — and then sold the town a couple days later for twenty bucks. An $8 profit, bD’oh!)
So who to root for? Butler (12-1), I guess, ranked 4th this week in the college basketball RPI. They’re just up the road in Indy, and I always like a Cinderella story. Or Mizzou, maybe, since I lived longer in the Show-Me State than anywhere else.
But year in and year out, I find myself checking in on the Bradley Braves. Spent a few years in Peoria back in the mid-80s, when I was the night jock at Top 40 station KZ-93. Those were the glory days of Hersey Hawkins, Jim Les, and coach Dick Versace, and the 1986 32-3 dream season, which ended in a second round NCAA playoff loss to the eventual champs, Louisville.
Tonight, Bradley played what must have been a fantastic game to watch, handing previously unbeaten arch-rival Illinois State its first loss of the season, 56-52. That leaves the Braves alone on top of the Missouri Valley at 4-0 (10-5 overall).
Jim Les is a little older, coaching the team now instead of running the backcourt, and to an outsider looking in, it seems he’s restoring the pride to a program that was once (during the Truman administration) a national powerhouse.
And I’m glad to see Dave Snell is still calling the games. Every team needs a radio voice who’s always been there, and Dave’s trademark “Ka-BOOM!” made listening to the games on WMBD a joy — even through the cue monitor during my show on the FM.