By Eric Williams
When I was 14 I saw Rex Chapman in the Indiana-Kentucky All Star Game.
After it was over, I asked Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball for his autograph and he punched my dad in the face and burnt down the orphanage for handicapped Somali children my parents ran out of their home.
OK — so maybe that didn’t happen exactly as I recall, but for a myriad of reasons I did learn to loathe Chapman while he was at the University of Kentucky for the next four years.
Who knows where my Rex-o-phobia began, perhaps it’s simply the hatred for Kentucky that, like a love for anything breaded and deep fried, comes to Hoosiers naturally.
More likely it’s, despite our similar age and love of basketball, Chapman was a high school All Star, Division 1 stand out and 10 plus year veteran of the NBA and I clearly was not.
But recently Rex erased any doubt of my overall disdain for him when the former Kentucky Wildcat said the Big Ten was “overrated” and the Big East was “the best conference in America.”
This affront led me to settle things in true Hoosier fashion; one on one with Rex Chapman.
Arranging a game with Chapman wouldn’t be easy considering getting him back in Indiana would probably be the equivalent of helping Robert E. Lee book a vacation to Gettysburg or asking Magic Johnson to come back to late night television.
Ours would be a virtual tussle.
Chapman made millions in the NBA and has a job as an analyst on the Tru TV Halftime show.
In between diaper changes and my many other duties as a patriotic American, I hammer out stories of debatable journalistic merit that the local paper uses as filler when things are so slow they’re unable to locate other, more relevant news.
Chapman was a two time participant in the NBA Dunk Contest and I…well advantage Rex on that one, too.
Once sporting a proud hair helmet that was half mullet, half jerry-curl and entirely backwoods fabulous, Chapman has since moved on to the ever popular shaved head look so many aging sports stars subscribe to.
Begrudgingly, advantage Chapman.
As for the picks, the part time pretend journalist in me wanted more information but after googling “Rex Chapman’s bracket” all that came up was some obscure fishing rod contraption Chapman may or may not have endorsed when money got tight after retiring from the NBA.
I’d have to stick to his man-crush on the Big East.
After the first three rounds of the men’s tournament the Big East Conference has gone 6-5 while the Big Ten has posted a sparkling 10-3 record.
Of these six wins, it should be noted two came from Marquette who could have lost twice if not for a boneheaded cross-court pass by Davidson in the opening round and botched out-of-bounds play by Butler in the second round.
The Sweet 16 includes four Big Ten teams and three from the soon to be imploded Big East including the aforementioned Marquette and what’s left of their nine lives.
According to CBS.com the Big Ten’s conference RPI is second only to the Mountain West; and while I’m no mathematician and haven’t studied the full list, I’m fairly certain this places the Big Ten ahead of the Big East.
Advantage clearly me.
So we stand eye to eye, score knotted at 3.
Thursday’s showdown between Indiana and Syracuse looms featuring two legendary programs.
And, because we’re both too out of shape to continue, Chapman offers the couch on his front porch and we agree to let it ride on Thursday’s Big Ten/Big East face off.
Winner takes all, once and for all.