So I’m sitting in my kitchen at halftime of the game, feeding my kids raisins and making sure the dog didn’t snatch any of them. 8 PM start times are always rough in our house, as I help put our kids to bed at 9. Marquette was down 15, looking quite flat and I was ready to just call it a night.
But my wife was making some healthy brownies and wasn’t quite ready to start the tag team process, so I got to PJ duty in the living room, catching bits and pieces of the first few minutes. Markus Howard picked up two fouls within a minute, and Nova pushed the lead to 17 after two Mikal Bridges freebies. Any lingering hope of a comeback was extinguished pretty quickly.
As my wife was still cleaning up the dishes, I had to watch a tad more. And something funny happened. Shots started falling. The deficit was barely dented, as stops were difficult to come by on the other end, but the lethargic nature of the first half had changed. So when my wife took our littlest one with about 10 minutes left, Marquette was down 11 and I was hooked. My daughter would get a late night, and what a night it would be.
I see myself as more of an analytical guy then a feelings guy. I get emotional, of course, but when it comes to writing articles, I need numbers. I need video. I need proof. I’m not smart enough at analyzing basketball to rely on my intuition.
But sometimes, no amount of numbers, no amount of clips, no amount of proof can really explain what happened. Marquette was down 13 with less than 7 minutes to go, against the No. 1 team in the country, the defending champs, a team that was up by 28 with 4 minutes to play last time they met. And Marquette won.
Like, look at the Win Probability chart from KenPom. Villanova was over 95% for a full 9 minutes, and reached 98% a few times. And Marquette Won.
Marquette scored 50 points in the second half, the first time Villanova had given up that many points in one half this season. The next highest total was, strangely enough, Marquette with 48, though 18 of those came in garbage time. The next highest after that? 43. Villanova’s defense and slow pace doesn’t let teams score in bunches.
But stats have nothing to do with this. Villanova missed threes it usually makes blindfolded. Katin Reinhardt put on the superhero cape. Duane Wilson stutter stepped past an entire team, living up to his Swaggy designation on Twitter. And Marquette won.
My daughter is almost 3, still a little young to understand basketball. But any time she sees basketball on TV, she reflexively says, Go Marquette. She can point out DWade, Doc, Novak and Jimmy Buckets when she sees them. Start em young, right.
She didn’t get to watch the full comeback, as my wife came back out to put her down. But I went to get her with about a minute left and got to witness what may go down as the greatest regular season game in Marquette history. She liked seeing all the people on the floor. She liked seeing the happy faces of everyone on the camera. Most of all, she liked seeing me giddy, something that rarely happens.
It’s more than likely she won’t remember any of this by the morning, let alone years from now, but for one rainy night in Cleveland, she got to witness the incredible joy this team has given me.
Odds be damned. Xs and Os be damned. On this night, all that mattered was the score at the buzzer.
Down goes Nova. Marquette won. I still can’t believe it.