Even though University of Kentucky alumna and Insurance Council of New Jersey President Deana Lykins calls herself “the Ashley Judd of New Jersey,” she felt humbled today holding the 2012 NJBIZ Brackets trophy aloft and thinking back to Tuesday afternoon, when 25,000 fans packed Rupp Arena, in Lexington, to watch the Big Blue Nation raise its championship banner.
“Most schools put up banners for all of their sports, but we only put one up if we win in the Final Four,” Lykins said. “This is a very big deal for the state, and I’ve already watched the ceremony twice.”
Lykins said watching the tournament with friends and family who “really care about the games” was the best part of the road to the Final Four, and she’s even picked up some new Kentucky friends along the way.
“I sent one of the (NJBIZ) Brackets stories to an associate member, who mentioned that his CIO went to (the University of) Kentucky, so then I said, ‘Can you send me his contact info?’ ” Lykins said. “He didn’t think I was serious, but I reached out to the guy and we got right into talking about the team. There’s a crazy web of people from Kentucky.”
Lykins said one thing that’s talked about most within the Kentucky alumni community right now is that all five underclassman starters — including freshman “Fear the Brow” Anthony Davis — will likely declare for the NBA draft.
“Davis is amazing, and I really wish he would stay,” Lykins said. “But you never know if someone better could come along. John Wall went pro after one year, and no one thought he could be replaced — but Davis was better.”
Even without Davis and the rest of this year’s starting lineup, Lykins said the odds of a repeat win are strongly in the Wildcats’ favor. But last year’s NJBIZ Brackets winner, Gibbons P.C. attorney Frederick Alworth, said a second straight championship for any team — including his University of Connecticut Huskies — isn’t likely.
“It’s so hard for any team to repeat (a win), which makes March Madness so exciting,” Alworth said in an e-mail. “Clearly, the best team won this year’s big dance, and I’m glad to pass the torch (and) be amongst the alumni of NJBIZ Bracket winners. It has been a fun ride.”