I don’t know about you, but after the Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Oregon Ducks Saturday night to advance to the Sweet 16, I was emotionally spent. After the game finished it took awhile to come down from the rush of Wisconsin making a valiant and successful second half comeback.
But from the opening tip to the final buzzer, the highs and lows of the game left me feeling as if I was somehow on the court throughout the game. Now as much as I wish that were true, let’s face it, I’m nowhere near playing shape. I have not shot a basketball in over a year and have packed on a couple of pounds over the years.
Anyways, back to Saturday night’s game. Right from the get-go the Ducks came out flying up and down the court like we knew they would. The great thing about it was that Wisconsin seemed to match their tempo for most of the first half. Not going to lie, seeing the Badgers run up and down the floor was a breath of fresh air. And made for some tense, but exciting, 20 minutes of basketball.
Oregon however pulled away heading into halftime, taking a big 49-37 lead at the break. The fans at the BMO Harris Bradley Center (who were absolutely amazing all night in my opinion) were not only booing the referees out of the arena, but seemed deflated at the same time. I think Wisconsin fans everywhere felt deflated at that point.
I know I did, but I also felt their was a little bit of hope left in this Badgers squad. A little magic if you will. After I put my daughter to bed, I posted on Facebook that I was not ready to see this Badgers season end yet, thinking (hoping) there was still some magic left.
Whether I truly believed that or was just trying to reassure myself that maybe this thing isn’t quite over, I’m not sure. It was probably a little bit of both.
Wisconsin came out hot to start the second half, going on a 17-6 run and igniting the Bradley Center crowd (again, they were amazing all night). At home I was going nuts. After waiting through halftime wondering if this is the end, the Badgers came out swinging and we had a brand new ball game.
This one just got interesting.
For most of the second half, the Ducks and Badgers traded blows like it was a heavyweight fight. I, as well as most Badgers fans around the country, went through every emotion in the book it seemed. Ecstatic, nervous, worried, mad, elated, optimistic, pessimistic…you get the point. Palms become slightly sweaty as I lived and died with every shot the Badgers and Ducks made and/or missed.
And then at the end of the game, as Traevon Jackson shot his four free throws with less than a second left to seal it, there was a calmness as I knew Bo Ryan and Wisconsin would be moving on to Anaheim, CA and the Sweet 16.
Like I said earlier, I was spent afterwards. But at the same time, this is why I love sports so much. The battle, the in-game chess matches, the pageantry and even the heartache of defeat are why we all love sports. As much as I hate feeling like I went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali in his prime, I come right back the next game ready for whatever it has to dish out to me.
And this is why we love March Madness. Look at all the games that have gone down to the wire or into overtime. Hollywood couldn’t write a better script for some of these games.
For all these reasons, we as Wisconsin fans will be glued to the television on Thursday. Whether it’s an emotional roller coaster once again or a Sunday afternoon cruise, we will following it every step of the way. For my blood pressure and heart’s sake, I hope it turns out to be more like the latter.