Marquette Madness primer

Our-long awaited national crisis is almost over. No, the government isn’t going to be up and running any time soon, but come Friday at 7 p.m., Marquette basketball will be and for fans and followers of the blue and gold, that’s more than enough good news.

Here at Paint Touches we have scraped and clawed to find relevant angles without completely submersing ourselves in conjecture as the dog-days of summer morphed into fall. But that comes to an end on Friday.

A little more than 280,800 minutes since Marquette last walked off the court after an Elite 8 loss to Syracuse, the Golden Eagles are back in an official capacity as Marquette Madness kicks off the 2013-’14 season.

Now, there are two very diverging schools of thought when it comes to the annual hype-fest that has students and fans lining up around the block to see Marquette introduce its players and put on a little show. There are the curmudgeons who see this as a lame exercise of faux-spirit in chase of a measly t-shirt (me circa 2011) and those who see it as a great way to round up fan interest and put some extra juice into the season (me circa 2013).

Is it a spectacle on par with Kentucky’s extravaganza? Absolutely not. Will it be too cheesy and 25 minutes too long? Yep. Are Marquette’s fans going to start filing out before the men’s scrimmage? You betcha.

What’s so good about it then? Recruits love it. That alone should end all debate. This season, there is a particularly loaded class of prospects coming to watch the festivities.

But going above and beyond that, it’s the starter’s block in a marathon of a race that is the college season. For people not immersed in the minutiae of Marquette basketball, this event tells them it’s time to pay attention. They get to yell and scream and have a good time, much like fans do at the start of a race. As the season slogs along, many of those people will only follow along for big games against big names before committing themselves completely once the NCAA Tournament comes around. This isn’t conjecture, our analytics on unique hits to Paint Touches will corroborate that analysis.

And while I like to point out the negatives, I still don’t take for granted how special it is to be able to get 4,000 people in a gym to see what is basically a boring practice. When I told my cousin, a native of Mexico who transferred from New Mexico State to MU this year, about it he literally didn’t comprehend why people would go. They had nothing like that at NMSU and there are only a handful of schools around the country that can boast of having such an event, let alone one as well-attended or successful as the one the MU athletic department puts on. Long story short, if you like Marquette basketball and have a few hours open on Friday, Madness is well worth your time. There will be dunks, dances, a bunch of silliness and a sloppy 15 minutes of basketball.

To get you prepped, here are some of the top-5 from Madness the past few years.

5. Karaoke battle

As a little bit of background, Junior Cadougan and Buzz Williams had gotten a lot of national recognition for their terrible singing while filming promos for the upcoming 2011 season. What better way to decide who’s “better” than to have a sing-off.

4. Gangnam Style

I realize we mostly focus on the men’s team, but this impromptu dance to one of the catchiest (and worst) songs of 2012 was fantastic. Well planned and executed to perfection.

3. Joe Fulce dunk

Joe Fulce never reached his potential on the court due to a number of injuries, but he sure did please the crowd in the dunk contests. The man could send it in with the best of them. The ridiculousness of the slam at the  37-second mark of the video isn’t quite captured here, but just know that it was an alley oop pass from Maurice Acker who was standing in the concourse, about 75 feet away from the basket and about 30 feet up. It has yet to be topped, though Deonte Burton may have a thing or two to say about that.

2. Pray

Marquette always has fantastic video introductions for the team that it reveals at Madness, but none will ever come close to topping this one. Ever.

1. #BroughtWadeToMadness

Having your alumni in the NBA come back to be a part of the Madness is cool in its own right, but this holds even more significance for us here at Paint Touches. We were seniors at the time, writing for the Marquette Tribune when we tossed around the idea of how cool it would be for the NBA players to scrimmage the current players after seeing DJO tweet at Dwyane Wade asking if he was coming. So I wrote in one of my columns (here’s the evidence in the last paragraph) to tweet at Wade and Mark thought of making it into this huge viral campaign using the hashtag #BringWadeToMadness. He tweeted it non-stop and we choreographed hours where everyone on staff would tweet it at the same time to try and get it trending. Then the official Marquette Twitter account used it and it blew up as we actually got it to trend in Milwaukee, culminating in bringing Wade to Madness.

Obviously we didn’t have the power to convince him to come, as that was probably in the works for a bit, but having him give us a shout out during his speech as seen above was one of the highlights of our year. Heck, we even made it our avatar on Twitter for the last two years.

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