Road Trip Saturday Number 2 Marquette
It was an odd feeling to be going to a college basketball game in October. However, it was under a unique circumstance that this game even occurred. Normally teams are only allotted two exhibitions, but this year the NCAA allowed all division one teams to participate in a third exhibition to raise funds for different disaster relief charities. Many programs jumped at the chance with already 30+ charity games across the country being set up on the schedule. My personal opinion on this is I think it is a great idea. I wish all of us in the college basketball community had thought of it in previous years, but none the less it is great that it occurred this year, and I really hope it continues next year.
Marquette and Milwaukee share the same city and are the only two division one teams in the city. However, they have not met on the court since December 22 2011. Even though I am not from Milwaukee the significance of this rivalry was not lost on me. Whenever there is a major city in which there are only two division one teams when they play you know you will be in for a great competitive game. This was no different for the 2017 edition of the battle for the city of Milwaukee.
On a very rainy Sunday I made the three-hour trek to Milwaukee Wisconsin for the first time in my life. To add to the uniqueness of this game it was played at Marquette’s on campus arena the Al McGuire Center. The arena is home to the Golden Eagles women’s team, but has not hosted a men’s division one opponent since Alabama A&M on Dec 19 2014. The venue itself seems like the perfect place to watch a college basketball game. Yes, I will admit it is a bit small for a Big East team (it only seats 3,700), but if this were the home for a mid-major team it would most likely be one of the nicer arenas in the conference. Marquette plays virtually all of its home games at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but I think it would be cool to see them play a handful of games each season at the Al McGuire Center given how nice the venue is.
I had bought a ticket for the general admission section thinking I would be sitting in the second tier bleacher seats along the side of the court, but I was pleasantly surprised to be told by an usher I had the choice of those seats or the bleachers along the baseline behind the basket. I decided to go with the latter option, and sat in the first row. Another unique quirk of this arena is that there is padding all along the front of the bleachers at each baseline, and even if you are in the 1st row like I was you are still probably 5 feet above the actual floor. From my seat I had a perfect view. I could clearly see Marquette’s 1977 National Championship Banner, the final four banners, and the NIT championship banner. In the lobby of the Al McGuire center there was a fair amount of history as well. In display cases there were the 1977 National Championship trophy, and 2003 Final Four trophy. They also had sections commemorating the Golden Eagle greats (Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Al McGuire).
In terms of the actual game to say Marquette got off to a slow start would be an understatement. They left the crowd standing for a while as they did not manage to score until four minutes into the game, and did not end up taking their first lead until most of the way through the first half. Marquette lead 35-30 at halftime, and it did not look like a Big East team was playing a Horizon League team. The Milwaukee panthers kept it close for the first half of the second half coming out of the break, but eventually Marquette pulled away. Things got a bit physical in the second half of this rivalry.
Marquette ended up winning the game by a comfortable margin, but really everyone was a winner. Over $31,000 was raised for the red cross hurricane relief fund, Milwaukee got an early season test against a Big East team, and showed they could hold with them for most of the game, Marquette got a nice tune up game, and film to see what to improve on, and the fans got to witness a rivalry college basketball game in October!