The Villanova Wildcats can win the National Championship. That's the prevailing thought I've been having ever since the final horn sounded on Saturday night. They're two games away from eternal glory. Two very difficult games against two great teams. But two games away nonetheless.
And boy, do I ever want it. A big part of me still isn't over getting so close in 2009, even if in my head and heart I knew that North Carolina team would beat Villanova 9 out of 10 times. It was heartbreaking nonetheless, and the false dawn of elite basketball that followed has made the wait that much more agonizing.
I don't have that feeling this season.
This team is good enough to win it all. They're more than good enough. Heck, they're favored to win on Saturday night against a great team that has already beaten them by 23 on a neutral court. That's how good the 'Cats are.
At the same time, we can't get ahead of ourselves. Basketball is a fickle sport. Cold streaks happen at the worst times, as we know all too well. And given what our expectations were in the preseason (for me, the Elite 8), this season has been a resounding success any way you want to look at it.
If this isn't the best team of the Jay Wright era, it's pretty damn close. They don't have the next-level talent of the 2005-06 team, but they do seem better equipped to cut down the nets and their legacy has already been etched in stone (with a little room to go, of course).
This is a group of players that has won more games than anybody else over the last three seasons. They've won three straight conference regular season championships and a conference tournament. They've won countless silly-season tournaments. They've provided us with great memories. That should be good enough.
And that's what being a fan is. It never is enough. I want more. This team is capable of more. For all they've done for the program to bring this program to the elite of college basketball, they deserve more.
And though I'm trying desperately not to go whole hog on this thing, I can't help myself. Am I really going to protect myself and think Josh Hart might miss a big rebound? Or think that Kris Jenkins will go cold. Or that Ryan Arcidiacono may shy away from the moment?
And let me be clear - losing at this stage would not make this season a disappointment. All I'm saying is be confident., and believe that this journey can continue.
Because the players certainly believe.