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Marquette Beats #1 Villanova One Year Later: “NOBODY SPEAK TO ME”

This is my account of my experience that fateful January night.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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.

“Number 1 has fallen in Milwaukee!”

January 24th was a night I won’t soon forget. I was sitting in a rolling office chair in the middle of my apartment in Columbia, Missouri. I don’t go to school at Marquette, and being so far away from the Bradley Center hurt that night. But it doesn’t hurt badly enough to supplant the elation.

I’m going to be honest. I had no expectation for Marquette to even come close to beating Villanova that night. I mean, why the hell would they? A deeply flawed team that couldn’t play defense and relied so much on shooting hosting the best team in the country (at the time) and defending national champion? It was supposed to be one of those games I watched half-heartedly and said “good effort, fellas.” And really, I had a lot of work to do that night so if the Marquette University men’s basketball team cared at all about my academic success at the University of Missouri, they would’ve made it such a game.

But they don’t care about my academic success. I barely care about it myself.

Anyways, in 8 years of living in Milwaukee and going to Marquette games, I’d never seen them beat a team that good. I was pretty young when Dwyane Wade led them to a tournament victory over No. 1 Kentucky in 2003, so as far as I was concerned, Marquette had never beat a team this good.

And, at least for the first half, it seemed that would continue. A 15-point deficit didn’t inspire much confidence in me.

So, as I listlessly watched the second half, it was actually my roommate that noticed that Marquette was starting to put something together. “Yo, Marquette’s starting to chip into this,” he said as the Golden Eagles had gotten the score within 10 on a Duane Wilson 3-pointer. Bill Raftery agreed, as he noted “there’s life in this team, they are not going away!” At that point, it was 68-58, Wildcats, with 5:07 remaining. Those same Wildcats would score four more points the rest of the game.

Of course, I didn’t know that, so I sat up further in my chair. My jaw was clenched and my arms were crossed, which is what I’m sure I would do if I was either getting fired or winning the lottery, so my only real emotion was “NOBODY SPEAK TO ME.”

So, I watched Duane Wilson hit a stop-and-go driving layup past Mikal Bridges, Sam Hauser splash a wing 3, and Katin Reinhardt pull up in front of two Villanova defenders to cut the lead to 3. At that point, I was crouching on the ground, one hand bracing myself against the floor, the other being used to nervously bite my nails (I’m sorry, I know it’s bad). When Reinhardt hit that 3 to tie the game at 70, I honestly thought I was going to vomit. Four Marquette free throws and a Josh Hart putback later, Villanova had the ball with 10.4 seconds left. At that same time, my friends were standing to the side of our living room, watching me more so than they were watching the game.

The Duane Wilson hesitation move that I will honestly turn into a religion.

Jalen Brunson drove. Jalen Brunson missed. Jalen Brunson lost. Not singlehandedly, of course. I have a lot of respect for Jalen Brunson.

That was a quick aside to talk about how I like Jalen Brunson. Great player. Anyway.

Marquette won. Marquette beat the No. 1 team in the country on January 24, 2017. I want to talk about how glorious the celebration was, watching students storm the court, seeing guys like Wilson and Jajuan Johnson stand atop the scorer’s table, basking in the glow of what they’d deserved for so long, but really, I was freaking the **** out. I definitely started crying. I have proof.

I called my dad. My dad went to Marquette 100 years ago (or 30, I don’t know), and I’m not sure he ever saw a game like that. He couldn’t believe it either.

It’s one of the best, if not the best, memories I have as a Marquette fan. I can’t think of one off the top of my head that can beat it. After a few tough seasons, it meant a lot. And watching videos of the court storming and imagining how it must have been in that arena, I can bet that it might not be topped for a long time to come.

A special thank you to Harry Froling.