I’ve enjoyed watching college basketball’s March Madness tournament for a few decades. There’s something about that ‘anything can happen’ factor that always drew me in. And the Cinderella stories… when a lower seeded team beats a top contender, well that’s the stardust that all the best tales are made of.
I had never heard of St. Peter’s, a small Jesuit university in Jersey City, before the game last Thursday night when they upset Kentucky in the first round. As the New York Times mentioned, “Kentucky has about 32,000 students, St. Peter’s approximately 2,300. Kentucky has won eight N.C.A.A. championships; St. Peter’s had never won an N.C.A.A. Tournament game before Thursday. St. Peter’s men’s basketball coach Shaheen Holloway made $266,344 in 2019; Kentucky head coach John Calipari’s base salary is $8.5 million. St. Peter’s basketball revenue was $1.6 million in 2019-20, while Kentucky’s was $29.3 million.”
Talk about David and Goliath. And if the St. Peter’s players had let those numbers get into their heads, it would be very hard to win the game. If they thought about the deep bench of talented, scouted players, the history of wins, the team budget.
But it seems like they went into it with one plan in mind. Play our own game.
And play they did. They didn’t just win that game, only the tenth time in tournament history that a 15th seed beat a second seed. They won the next game too and will be playing in the Sweet Sixteen.
Mindset is everything. If you go into something feeling you have nothing to lose, you might just end up winning.
I can’t wait to see what happens as this team whose school had never won an N.C.A.A. game before last week, plays next. On the court and in life, if you focus on what you can do rather than what others are doing, anything is possible. And it never hurts to practice free throws (or whatever your needed life skill might be). Producing under pressure is what turns a predicted loss into an unexpected win. Go Peacocks!