The mouse that roared

It's hard to believe that it was only two and a half weeks ago that I blogged about the chance that the Saint Peter's University men's basketball team might possibly win their conference tournament in Atlantic City and go on to the nationals. It was Friday the 11th that I wrote:

The champ in A.C. gets to go to the NCAA National Tournament, where they will be annihilated in the first round by men twice their size. But still, they will be on the bracket card and give their fans another few days to cheer for them.

It seems like an eternity since then. But the Peacocks from Montgomery Street, where I got my degree on the five-year plan, got it done in their league tournament, beating Fairfield, Quinnipiac, and Monmouth. Then they stood up to the Goliaths in the nationals. Once they epically upset Kentucky, you didn't need this blog for Saint Peter's news any more. They became a national phenomenon.

They beat Murray State for a trip to the Sweet 16. There they beat Purdue and thus made it to the Elite Eight. Finally, their offense, which was prone to sputtering during the regular season, failed them against North Carolina. They trailed from start to finish and went home from Philadelphia to Run Baby Run Arena instead of to the national semifinals.

But I couldn't be prouder of my alma mater at this moment. The team did what no other team in history has ever done. It's a feat not likely to be repeated. 

And so now North Carolina will play Duke in the Final Four, and the hype will be enormous. Arch-rivals forever, they've never faced each other in the national tourney. And North Carolina recently ruined the home court finale of retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who will be seeking sweet revenge.

I'll be rooting for Duke. I have no use for North Carolina, particularly its forward Brady Manek. That guy played four years at Oklahoma, appearing in more than 120 games there, but he's still in the college game under a Covid loophole at age 23. Boooo. Besides, Coach K going out with another NCAA title is the way life is meant to be.

Meanwhile, many of last week's bandwagon fans have probably already started to forget Saint Peter's. But let's hope that the Peacocks' moments of fame lead to good things for the school, particularly in the money department. Some big shot college coaches earn more in four years than Saint Peter's entire endowment. I saw Krzyzewski quoted as saying that the glory of the Elite Eight could lead to tens of millions of dollars for the small Jersey City school. Given its long tradition of lifting blue-collar commuter students up to the highest heights – including night students, recent immigrants, and many students of color – that would be well-deserved.