Friday, March 11, 2011

When Buses Get In The Way

If you went to Northwestern, and I'm guessing since this is mostly read by my friends then the proportion is higher than usual, you might have noticed that the Wildcats got bounced in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament today by No. 1 Ohio State. What you might not have noticed is that Northwestern had a lead in the final minute that it let slip away before falling in overtime. Not only could this have been the single greatest moment of Northwestern's rather thin basketball history, but it also would have kept the highly faint hopes NU had of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time, hopes that it would seem rested solely on claiming the Big Ten's automatic bid by winning the conference tournament.

The Wildcats are likely to get an NIT bid, but that seems small consolation for coming so close to knocking off the No. 1 team in the country, a feat that just might have invigorated what has been a steadily improving but nonetheless fledgling program. What makes the loss all the more frustrating, however, is that this is second time this season Northwestern has taken the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes to the final minute with a chance to pull off the monumental upset. It feels like something greater than the season at large has been lost when two narrow chances to make a bold statement to the world of college basketball both slip through the Wildcats' fingers.

What was most frustrating for me, however, was that being a dedicated alum and a Northwestern fan, you'd think there was no chance I'd miss what could be the greatest moment in the lackluster history of NU basketball. And you'd be wrong. For you see at the exact moment Northwestern had shockingly taken the lead in the waning moments this afternoon, I was somewhere in northern Maryland on a bus bound for D.C. where I will be seeing the Blackhawks and Capitals Sunday afternoon.

This presented a number of issues.

I was hoping to follow the game on my laptop using ESPN3.com, which I have remote streaming set up for. However, when you're on a bus internet can be, diplomatically speaking, "shitty". In the case of the M31 Megabus from New York to Washington D.C. on March 11, 2011, it was utterly nonexistent.

I spent most of the game following on my phone and on twitter, refusing to believe that my Wildcats would actually make a game of it, let alone take the lead late in the game. Then I glanced at my phone and saw it was a one-point game in the second half.

It was time to break out the big guns. I got out of my seat, rifled through my luggage and pulled out my laptop in hopes of connecting to the bus's mobile internet. Connect I did.

And then: Nothing.

Apparently being connected to the internet isn't the same thing as actually getting to use the internet, and despite the comments of the young man next to me that on his bus to New York earlier this week he was able to watch the Big East tournament, I wasn't able to so much as load my homepage. Though when I consider that he also told me Rocky IV was the best of the series, perhaps he wasn't the man to trust.

Either way, the inevitable outcome was clear. I was not going to get to watch the magic or lack thereof happen in live streaming video. Instead I had to resort to painstakingly reloading the score on my iPhone's ESPN app, where I saw that not only did Northwestern let its late lead slip away, but the Wildcats got beat up in overtime in what eventually would be a season-ending 67-61 defeat. Sometimes it just isn't meant to be.

And sometimes you aren't meant to see it, regardless of what it is.

Luckily, the whole reason I'm here is to see the Blackhawks and Capitals this Sunday and cross team No. 39 off the list. While there are still some questions as to whom, exactly, will be seeing the game with me, I do know that at least I'll be there in person. I will actually witness that game.

And no bus is going to stop me.

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