Will the real Cats please stand up?

"So let it be written. So let it be done."

With victories in the NCAA basketball tournament yesterday, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats and the University of Kentucky Wildcats will finally play each other this Saturday night for the first time in 14 years. But honestly, their not playing each other never really bothered me too much. I was always familiar with UK basketball, but I didn't care for it. Both my parents' families were from Kentucky, but sports were never a big deal in my house growing up; there was never an issue of who we should or shouldn't root for. Despite my Bluegrass roots, I was born and raised on the north side of the Ohio River so there my loyalties lie. I am from Cincinnati, so I cheer for the Bearcats. It's that simple. I couldn't have cared less about Kentucky basketball. But all that changed in 1997.

That's when I became romantically involved with the woman who would become my wife. A young lady born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. Yes friends, I married a UK fan.

Simplicity gave way to complexity as I married this Kentucky girl. If I was going to make the marriage work [and especially if I wanted to gain access to my father-in-law's season tickets at Rupp Arena], I would have to make peace with the UC/UK issue. Over the past eight years of our relationship, I've evolved into a UK follower. Now for the record, I'd like to differentiate between being a "UK follower" and a "UK fan." As a "follower" I'm interested in what UK is doing and will watch and even cheer for them. They are not, however, my team. I am not a "UK fan." Cincinnati is my team. I am a UC fan. That will never change. But I've been able to achieve a yin-yang type oneness with the situation, keeping my allegiance while supporting hers. And to my wife's credit, she has done the same thing for me. She's become a UC follower. It even shows through our interior decorating: we have one room in our house painted in Cincinnati red and one in Kentucky blue.

Yet the one thing that always allowed us to balance these two opposing allegiances was that Cincinnati and Kentucky never played each other since we've been together. And now, thanks to the NCAA seeding committee, that will finally end Saturday. My wife and I will be forced to sit down and watch a game where we will root against each other's team. So far, we're keeping it together at home. We're still speaking to each other and there are no duct-taped lines around the house. I won't lie to you though: I refuse to eat any of her cooking until the game is over [and I might have to wait even longer depending on the outcome of the game]. And I'll sleep this evening with one eye open.

Since we've been together UK has won a national championship and UC . . . well, they were on the verge of doing so until Kenyon Martin broke his leg in 2000. UK has had Elite Eights and Final Fours while UC has seen repeated second-round tournament exits. She's always had the basketball bragging rights. But maybe all that will finally change tomorrow. Sure, it won't match UK's seven championship banners to UC's two, but if UC can pull it off, I'll be hoisting an imaginary banner to the rafters in my mind. I will walk around our house an empowered man, my troubled soul finally rewarded with a sense of comfort.

So it's Bearcats verses Wildcats. North verses South. Ohio verses Kentucky. Nick Lachey verses Ashley Judd. Me verses my wife. It'll finally be decided Saturday.

I've scheduled a marital counseling session for next week just in case.