NEW ORLEANS — The time has come to predict the Final Four. But never mind the usual stats and metrics and talk show speculation. This is New Orleans, so let’s go right to the top.
Devlin, the tarot card reader.
He was on duty Wednesday at the Bottom of the Cup Tea Room on Chartres Street, two blocks off Bourbon Street and 15 blocks from the Superdome. In the front area, they are all varieties of tea on sale, and also voodoo wish pencils and crystal balls. This, after all, is the French Quarter. In the back are the small rooms for readings. He’s been calling the cards for 29 years, so let’s see what he thinks about the weekend down the street.
"I have zero knowledge when it comes to sports,” he began, so the cards would have to do the prognosticating. Though a couple of years ago when the national football championship game was in town between Clemson and LSU, he did read for some Clemson folks. "I just kept seeing (Clemson) were basically going to get their butts handed to them, but it was going to be a good game," he said. But the Clemson people seemed a little edgy so when they asked for Devlin’s verdict he answered, "Go Tigers!"
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He meant LSU, but the customers were happy because they thought he meant Clemson. At least until game day when LSU won 42-25. Other than that, he said he gets a sports query”once or twice a year. Outside the occasional gambler.”
Anyway, down to business. Clearly, the Bottom of the Cup Tea Room must not have an office pool, because Devlin had to be told what teams would be in the Superdome this weekend and who was playing whom. So much the better. No worry about him being a closet Duke hater or something, to skew the results.
The cards had to be shuffled, and then the first batch pulled out for the Kansas-Villanova game. All Devlin asked is that the shuffler be thinking hard about the teams, the coaches, their strengths and weaknesses. ”It may sound weird,” he said, ”having logic involved in something that deals with mysticism.”
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First, the Villanova cards.
“What I’m getting here is they are going to be the ones that win that game. The queen here, it’s almost like they have some deeply rooted plans than they have not used. In fact, the emperor card here — this would be the equivalent to the coach — it’s almost like he’s wondering if he should do it or not.”
So Jay Wright is up to something. Is there any doubt now?
“As for the other team, it seems like every win they make, it almost gets overshadowed. Emotionally they end up losing.”
Poor Kansas. He probably meant last Sunday, when the Jayhawks were whipping Miami but the nation was riveted on North Carolina-Saint Peter’s.
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Next, three cards for Duke.
Good or bad?
"Duke is showing as being a hardcore team this year. With the six of coins card, they’re very point specific with everything, so it’s like if they’ve got a certain player out there it’s for that one specific play. The seven of wands is showing a high level of communication. Then the queen of cups is showing wisdom and emotional knowledge. They’re a very domineering team.”
Gee, it’s almost like he had season tickets to Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Sound good for the Blue Devils, but North Carolina still had three cards to play.
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“They are also going to be very stubborn and hard-headed. Wow, this is like an extremely technical game. It’s almost like North Carolina is going to be the pit bulls in this. I am seeing here with the nine of wands aggression being used, and dealing with the eight of cups here, them not wanting to leave. It’s almost kind of like if they get a taste for blood they do not want to leave until they get it.”
And he didn’t even watch the Saint Peter’s game.
“This is going to be a very difficult game. The five of wands here, it’s almost like even though they’ve got holes going on, they’re finding ways to fill them.”
“I’m seeing North Carolina.”
Let’s not tell Coach K.
Now the big one. Three cards for Villanova for the championship, then three for North Carolina.
“What I’m getting here is it’s going to be North Carolina. It almost seems like if Villanova wins, it’s going to be on one penalty shot or something stupid like that.”
Obviously, the queen of wands must be aware that Villanova leads the world in free throw percentage.
“But North Carolina, the two of coins, this is showing them staying committed. Through that, dealing with the princess of cups, it’s almost like the less they know, the better off they are. Because with the five of swords here, their habits oddly enough are what’s going to keep them winning. It’s almost like just their training, the muscle memory, everything else is going to overpower everything.”
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One shining moment for the Tar Heels, then?
“That’s what I’m seeing. But Villanova is definitely going to give them hell through the whole thing.”
Devlin records his sessions so the customers can review the results. He handed over the CD, the one that is such bad news for Wright, Krzyzewski and Bill Self.
If he’s wrong and you’re disappointed, Tar Heel fans, don’t blame the officials. Blame the five of swords.