America loves an underdog. That’s why everyone and his grandmother are trying to come up with the next Rocky film. Sly Stallone feels no shame in continuing to make Rocky movies, either. Somehow, someway, that savvy old salamander always convinces us that Rocky Balboa is still an underdog. These days, it’s mostly because he’s 70 and has two replacement hips. It’s hard to win without real hips.
I root for the underdog. Unfortunately, I often cheer for the wrong ones. I consistently get my heart broken after I fall in love with one of my teams and they get eliminated from postseason contention in a very painful way. I’ve never been a fan of a team – aside from the 90s Bulls – that has been a clear favorite to win a championship from the beginning of a season through its completion. I envy my parents and their friends for getting to watch the 1985 Chicago Bears rip up the rest of the league. It must have been fun.
Every so often, however, one of my favorite teams makes it to a championship game. Today happens to be one of those rare, wonderful days. My beloved Boston University Men’s Basketball Terriers will battle the American University Eagles at 7:30pm Eastern Time for a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.
For those of you who don’t know, BU is first and foremost a hockey school. I admittedly never got as into hockey as I probably should have during my time at school, especially considering we won a national championship during that period. Instead, I focused all of my sports attention on the basketball team, and was one person in a small group that tried to show up to every game.
(Full disclosure: I was not as diligent in getting to the arena in the winter as some of my more dedicated friends. I blame that on Keystone Light.)
I have closely followed BU basketball since graduating in 2011, which was coincidentally the last year we punched a ticket the tourney. I love rooting for my Terriers, and I don’t care that I have to watch their games online most of the time. I know we’re not Kentucky, Michigan, Duke, or any of the other programs that people around the country want to see on a weekly basis. We’ve got to fight to earn national attention. That’s what makes days like today so special. We get to take center stage, albeit on CBS Sports Network.
Today is a day when seniors like Dom Morris, DJ Irving, and Travis Robinson should get to cut down the nets at Agganis and wonder who the hell the tournament committee will pit them up against next week. Today should be a day when the nation notices Maurice “Mo” Watson Jr., a stellar sophomore who dishes out an amazing seven assists a game. Today should be the day that a young, freshman stud like Cedric Hankerson points to as a maturation point in his promising collegiate career. Today needs to be the day that Boston University students and alumni take notice of a basketball program that could be great with their consistent love and support.
As is custom, I’m getting too excited for this game. I came into work early so that I can leave early enough to get home, pop open a Keystone Light (for old time’s sake), and watch my Terriers (hopefully) earn a chance to go dancing. I haven’t been able to focus on anything else all day.
I know there’s a chance that I’ll get my heart broken, but I’m willing to risk that because today is the day that I get to hope that my team is Rocky. Sure, American U. is technically the underdog because they’re the second seed, but who cares? We probably have more guys from Philadelphia on our team, anyway.
The Patriot League isn’t the ACC, Big Ten, or Big East. That means if we can win this game, we get to be the underdog again. We’d slide into the tournament as 14 seed, which would give us a prime opportunity to upset an ill prepared, high profile program. Can you imagine if BU made the tourney and shocked a school like Syracuse? I can only dream.
But before that can happen, the Terriers have to fight for the right to call themselves the Patriot League Tournament Champions. In essence, they’re in a dogfight to earn the right to be THE underdog. I guess underdogs are bound to a life of proving themselves.
Today is a day for the underdog, and I’m hoping that dog is a Terrier.