And, just like that, just as promised, my bracket’s in shambles. I should have seen it coming, but every year, it hits me like a freight train when Temple loses. At least this year I didn’t get caught on television crying after the loss like last year…
Last night, while watching Gonzaga, my sleeper pick for national champion, go down, I was immediately tense, full of nerves. Sure, #9 Wichita State had just proven that a #9 seed could upset a #1, but would it happen twice? Could #9 Temple upset #1 Indiana less than 24 hours later?
The Twitter trash-talk ensued; @TempleUniv tweeted the trending hashtag #NorthPhillyAgainstTheWorld and “Hoosier Daddy?” jeers resounded. Dom, the newest, biggest Owls fan, who just about lost it right along with the most die-hard of us during the close NC State game on Friday, was ready. When he texted two hours and five minutes before tipoff, mistaking the tip time for a mere five minutes away, he sent me into a panic, triple-checking the start time. I was already antsy.
I was the nervous wreck I am for every Temple game. I started pacing well before tipoff. I sat–quite literally–on the edge of my seat, wringing my hands, yelling at every player on the court, stomping the ground at every turnover, alternating between sending “I hate Temple” and “I love Temple” texts. My parents definitely thought I’d lost it. Khalif Wyatt might have put on a one-man offensive clinic, the Owls might not have gotten the calls they should have, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and Indiana was the solid team at the finish, and pulled out the W from under our feet.
Watching my friends, my classmates, walk off the court is the hardest part each year, and it never gets any easier. But they put up a fight, and in true North Philly style, they didn’t go down easy. I am so proud of these Owls, so proud to count myself as an alum of this school. That Temple T means the world to me, holds so many memories for me, and so many of those memories are tied to Temple basketball. TUMBB’s been a huge part of my college experience. It’s been about Cherry and White Night, storming the court, singing “I Believe,” attending tournament watch parties, and countless other moments. And today, they showed the country what being TempleMade is all about.
I don’t know a sports fan that doesn’t get offended by the consolation of the old adage, “It’s just a game.”
There’s ten guys on a court throwing and passing a big, orange ball, I get it. It’s a game. But it’s more than a game. It has the power to give hope to the underdog, on the court and in life. Five guys have the power to unite the most diverse school in the country, 37,000 strong. One team personifies the chip-on-the-shoulder-with-something-to-prove mentality of an overlooked school. It’s about the preparation, the motivation, the passion…and just a tad bit of luck.
And this “game” means so much more than the box score could ever show.
It’s all just a part of the Madness I’m head-over-heels in love with, even if it doesn’t go your way. Only one team gets the dream ending. The 67 others get a painful exit, full of regret and what-ifs. It may be a long offseason, but November always comes again. Just all part of the Madness.