On Sunday, January 28, Marquette will be hosting #1 Villanova at the Bradley Center in a major nationally televised game on Fox. It comes just one year and four days after the Golden Eagles knocked off the #1 ranked Wildcats in the BC, giving MU their first ever regular season victory over a #1 ranked opponent. To both celebrate the anniversary and preview Sunday’s game, we’re going to let the AE staff tell you their stories and memories from that January 2017 night.
I want to take you back in time, if you’ll bear with me. This day was August 25, 2013. The wildly problematic song Blurred Lines was the #1 song on Billboard and everyone was doing their own rendition of that stupid cup song. It was a much simpler time. That day holds significance for myself and others because my parents left me to my own devices that day. They took their firstborn son, a human they had spent 19 years molding with the values they had carried their whole lives, and dropped him off in a city they had been to twice. Anything could have happened. I could have cured cancer. I could have been a normal student that collected stamps. I could have froze to death because the coat I brought was really not built for Milwaukee winters. No matter the range of opportunities for myself and the other wide-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman taking the leap of faith that day, we all were certain of one thing: The basketball team will always be good.
Marquette was coming off a thrilling Elite Eight run. Vander Blue left to the draft for some reason, but the team was stacked with program staples like Davante Gardner, Actually Decent Point Guard Derrick Wilson and 24th-year-senior Chris Otule. They were built for the long run.
Waking up to go to the Ohio State game that they scored 35 points in ended up being one of the last times I was hyped up about Marquette basketball. Buzz Williams accumulated more gallons of sweat than Marquette had wins. Then he bailed and it seemed like the program had to start over. Having grown up on college basketball hype videos, the thought of grinding out a rebuild was miserable for me. I would have transferred if basketball didn’t constitute like 1% of my college experience.
Clearly, Steve Wojciechowski had shown progress over the next 2.5 years, but I yearned for something tangible to finish out my senior year. Those boys and girls saying good bye to their parents on 8/25/13 holding that innocent promise that they wouldn’t drink until they were 21 were men and women curing hangovers with brunch mimosas and hadn’t so much as witnessed Marquette losing in the first round of the NIT. They were on track to squeeze into the First Four in late January of 2017, but going into that fateful Villanova game, they still needed that one win to set them over the edge.
I’ll be honest, I went into the Bradley Center wanting to get an unfiltered look at the Wildcats so I could more accurately pick where they would end up in my bracket. Can’t prepare too early, folks. My friends went with me just because they knew there weren’t many of these games left. Well, except for one. Sandeep worked that night. Get bent, Sandeep.
After the first half, when ‘Nova was up by 15, I was thinking about what to do afterwards. Jay Wright could’ve taken Josh Hart’s spot in his perfect pinstripe suit and I still wouldn’t think Marquette had a chance.
The lead just didn’t keep growing, though. From the start of the second half to 5:00 left the lead was between 10 and 16. There was a point where Marquette cut the lead to 10 or something and the speakers started playing “Seven Nation Army”, which was a sign that whatever run Marquette was on was about to end. My friends and I had developed that rule after witnessing 3 years of almost never coming back from any sort of deficit. That was about the point where the thought went from, “Man, they’re still in it,” to “Alright, nothing has happened and the game is about to end.” Then Duane Wilson and Katin Reinhardt walked up to our seats, condensed my doubt into a tangible object, then beat me to death with it.
My eyebrows started to raise when the lead was cut to 8 with just over 4:00 left.
I started making uncomfortable noises when Duane Wilson made that stop-and-go move that I would still trade for companionship in my loneliest moments. The lead was 6.
When Sam Hauser hit a triple to make it a one possession game, I ran up and down the stairs and I think I was speaking in tongues.
I did the exact same thing when Reinhardt tied it.
Our group started saying swear words that made the parent of a small child next to us uneasy after Josh Hart grabbed an offensive rebound for a putback.
I know that Reinhardt’s beautiful face made the free throws to put Marquette ahead with 11.6 seconds left, but I had basically blacked out at that point.
Next thing I knew I was on the court.
A very underrated part of that game was the efficient and effective court storming. This past Monday night, Virginia Tech and TCU students stormed their respective courts. I personally have no problem with storming the court in any situation, I actually think we should have stormed the court even if Marquette lost that game just because they tried their best, but I trickle my faucets on cold nights with more intensity than those Hokie and Horned Frog students stormed their courts. We were all on the court within like a minute and the entire court was full for what seemed like hours. The pain of an opening night loss to Belmont 15 months earlier, the loss to Nebraska-Omaha a year before that, all the way back to seeing Jake Thomas try to do anything inside the three point line, all of that was exorcised out in the mayhem. The players even refused to leave.
I didn’t sleep that night. Literally all I did was watch highlights at Caff’s. I certainly didn’t give one iota of thought to going to my 9:00 Thermodynamics class the next morning. Neither did half of campus either. People were outside my window on 16th and Wells yelling until about 2:00. The atmosphere was electric and everything I was hoping for when I walked into my dungeon of an O’Donnell Hall room 3.5 years before.
We can all agree that if Marquette becomes a Big East contender for years down the road (which they are on track to do under Wojo), that win will be seen as the larger turnaround for the program as a whole. It was a statement win against one of the 5 best teams in the nation, and I can’t wait to complain to future students that they’re spoiled with great basketball and I’m a better fan because I just so happened to go to school there when they sucked.