What good would it do to win the daily double one day when you'd know the nation's monetary system would collapse the next? What would be the relative worth of discovering a cure for cancer when an asteroid the size of Alaska is hurtling on a certain collision course with the Late Great Planet Earth?
Mindful that clairvoyance might be more curse than blessing, I never longed for any mystical means of divination although, like most people, I must confess to getting the random gut feeling or sense of intuition that, against all odds, proves correct.
Maybe it's something that's encoded into the human DNA, the same static charge of neck hair that allowed our ancient ancestors to strolled the Serengeti without becoming a saber-toothed snack. Perhaps it's a type of psychic window that opens and slams shut so quickly that we only gather glimpses of what lies beyond the moment; inky images, foggy forms. Sometimes it's that internal nudge that directs us to miss an accident on the way to work or select the fastest checkout line at the grocery. As useful as it is few ever really get used to it. Most hear a piano playing the opening notes of the Twilight Zone theme song, accompanied by a chill down the spine.
Of course we don't have to have premonitions to make predictions, especially in sports where speculating on outcomes can be both great fun and big business. It's also a slippery slope because sports predictions are largely based on knowledge of the game and the law of probability, while intuition is that nagging feeling which disputes both. Anybody that has read our SEC picks knows I miss plenty over the course of a season.
What you may not know is that I'm a post prognosticator that is someone that examines history and predicts what would have happened "IF". For instance: IF Germany had kept its nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union instead of fighting a war on two fronts, what would have been the outcome? IF native Americans had remained dominate over their homeland what would the country be like today?
Naturally, my love of history and my love of sports makes for a perfect coupling to plot alternative histories. And the best thing about it is that I haven't ever been wrong. That last statement isn't a boast but a jest, since you can't ever be wrong when engaging in such an abstract concept. Example: IF the Portland Trailblazers had taken Michael Jordan instead of Sam Bowie with the third pick in the 1984 NBA Draft would they have won six titles instead of the Chicago Bulls?
That brings me to the point of this piece. I think a good case can be made that IF Tennessee had hit the same percentage at the free throw line against Ohio State as it hit from 3-point range (47.1 compared to 51.6) the Vols would not only survive and advance they could have won their first NCAA Championship one night before the Lady Vols won their seventh title, making UT on the second school in history to win both crowns in the same season.
Yes I realize there are a thousand bounces that can alter the outcome of any one-point game, and the losing side relives each one of those costly caroms when it considers what could have been, while the winning team knows it doesn't change reality. And it's not unreasonable to believe a team should shoot better when unguarded from 15 feet than it does when harassed from beyond 20 feet.
UT, which once led by 20 points, should have beaten Ohio State and advanced to the Elite Eight and a game with No. 2 seed Memphis. The Vols had beaten the Tigers during the regular season by 16 and were a good bet to knock them off again. That would have set up a Final Four contest against Georgetown which lost to Ohio State 67-60 and narrowly edged Vanderbilt 66-65. Conversely, the Vols beat the Commodores 84-57 on Feb. 10.
That would have set up a title match against Florida which Tennessee has beaten 3 of 4 times the last two seasons. No that doesn't mean UT would have won again, but chances are the Vols would have played Florida down to the wire. The only game the Vols lost was when Chris Lofton was injured and didn't play. It's also a fact Tennessee was the last team to beat Florida this season. And may very well have been the only team that could have denied the Gators another national crown.
It all makes you wonder what a wonderful week it would have been in Big Orange Country — IF only.