There’s that story in the Bible, you know the one. The Israelites are fighting the Philistines in the Valley of Elah. The Philistines send forth an unconquerable champion, I mean just the most brutal killer you could imagine. This guy’s 9 feet tall and he’s got parking meters for fists. The Israelites cower back. Nobody wants a piece of this nightmare. Believe me, you wouldn’t either. Then, from out of the ranks, looking brave but a little queasy, strides the Israelite champion: the 14th-seeded Runnin’ Bulldogs out of Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. A hush falls over the field house. This is a huge moment in biblical history. No 14-seed has ever made the Book of Samuel before. Over on CBS, Clark Kellogg is explaining to a national audience that the Dogs’ “keys to victory” are “just stay alive.” Jay Bilas likes their “promising young coach” — kid called God, used to be a graduate assistant for Rick Pitino — but concedes that their lack of “warrior prowess” means they’re facing “a very special kind of hell out there.”
That’s not how this ends, though. God has a plan. From the opening tip, it’s as if every play he sketches on the whiteboard works exactly, I mean exactly, as he’d foreseen. It’s like magic. And then, at the buzzer, Gardner-Webb’s scrawny little point guard launches a deep 3 that rips through the net and buries itself in Goliath’s forehead. The giant collapses in the dust. The birds of the air rejoice, as do the beasts of the field, as does the pep band of the student section. The Israelites storm the court. God immediately fields a text from the athletic director of Kentucky, setting into motion the chain of events that will see him sanctioned for recruiting violations just after the 33 A.D. season.
Brian Phillips writes the best hooks.