John and I traveled to Louisville on Saturday to watch our Purdue Boilermakers take on Virginia in the South Regional final of the NCAA March Madness tournament. A long-awaited berth in the Final Four was at hand! It was as if Boilermaker fans took over the KFC-Yum! Center, and we really did make it LOUD in there. It was a tremendous experience… all but the final score.
I don’t know why we bought seats — we hardly used them — we spent most of the game standing and cheering as loud as possible for our Boilers. If you were a generic fan of basketball, not having a stake in the outcome, it would have been a fantastic game to experience. John and I and about 20,000 other boisterous Purdue fans were feeling pretty good down the stretch, and in that final minute of play, I found some tears beginning to well up in my eyes, as I dared to think that we could actually WIN this thing! Those emotions were bruised as the Cavaliers hit a last-second shot to force overtime. The OT kept our hopes alive, as the lead bounced back-and-forth. The reality of the impending loss didn’t emerge until about 20 seconds to go in OT. We had traveled to LOO-uh-vull in hope of a celebration, but the final buzzer gave the shining moment to the UVA fans.
We now wax philosophically about how amazingly this Boilermaker team surpassed pre-season expectations. Picked in November as 11th-best in the Big Ten Conference, they ended as B1G Champions, and made it to the Elite Eight. Almost no one in December saw these happy results coming. There is much of which to be proud– B1G and National COTY Matt Painter, and All-American Carsen Edwards. Two special seniors who became solid contributors– one, Grady Eifert, went from freshman walk-on to senior starter. Center Matt Haarms has unlimited enthusiasm and energy. Team members express their sincere esteem for one another– how that touches the heart. Most of all, for me, I applaud the many players who express their faith in God, which will serve them well through every success and adversity.
We have some special memories of Purdue basketball from this season. Saturday certainly added to those sweet memories. Those are just some of things that will keep us proud to be part of the Purdue family.
And as for next weekend, best wishes to the Virginia Cavaliers as they approach the Final Four in Minneapolis.