Forgive me mid-major brethren for I have sinned. I didn't watch the whole game between Vermont and Duke.
I assumed that Jabari Parker and the rest of the Blue Devils would run the Catamounts out of the gym. I assumed that by halftime, Vermont would be wishing that they were going home to their own beds tonight instead of back to some Durham hotel.
I went and ate dinner instead.
What I came back to defies definition. Vermont was hanging with Duke, no, not hanging -- actually winning.
My first impressions weren't promising. Candon Rusin went to the line to shoot three free throws that would have really extended the lead for the Catamounts. He missed the first two.
Look, this isn't March. This isn't the time when the whole arena changes its colors and starts rooting for the underdog to take out the Big, Bad Dookies. This is November, and this game was in Cameron and Rusin is surrounded by hundreds of screaming Crazies that are still on campus for some odd reason. This is facing the ultimate in college sports pressure. Even North Carolina has trouble playing here.
We all knew Duke wasn't going away. Not with Jabari Parker, who had 19 points in the second half.
Not when you have the crowd on your side.
Not when you don't want to run sprints for the next 12 years as punishment from Coach K. You don't lose at home to an America East team. That is not allowed in Durham, N.C.
Forgive me again mid-major brethren for I have sinned. With 20 seconds remaining and Duke up by four, I felt the game was over.
I wasn't crazy enough to change the channel this time around. I just didn't see how it would be possible for Vermont to make up that difference with so little time. This is when the Blue Devils clamp down on defense. This is when they make your life a living hell.
Duke was just going to stop you and make you foul them and then you ...
WHAT?!?!? Rusin drills a 3-pointer from about 5 feet behind the arc, and ends up tumbling over a rolling Rasheed Sulaimon, who had slipped trying to get to him to stop the shot.
The same man who had missed two foul shots before had a chance to tie the game. (To be fair, other Catamounts also missed free throws down the stretch. As I said, this kind of thing isn't easy at Cameron.)
And swish; tie again. Unbelievably, Vermont was going to get a chance to play five more minutes if they could just play solid defense. If they could only find a way to stop Duke from adding another shot into the annals of Blue Devil lore. This one would be "The night we didn't GUH!"
Then of course, there was the foul call you knew was coming. As Rodney Hood drove to the hoop, it looked for all the world at full speed as if Clancy Rugg had tied him up, had successfully blocked the ball and at worst caused a jump ball.
But that wasn't how the referees saw it, and in super slow motion, it looks as if it was maybe the right call. It took super slow motion for me to think that though. There is no way that at full speed that looked like a foul. Even the announcers, who sit in the rafters at Cameron couldn't immediately say whether the call was the right one. That is how close it was.
Hood missed the first, giving that last glimmer of hope, and then made the second. Vermont was going to need the miracle shot.
It was a shot they never got to take as the Catamounts couldn't fully control the ball up the court against the Duke pressure defense. The horn sounded.
Forgive me mid-major brethren, because at the end, I did actually believe.