A mighty, mischievous roar broke out in Madison Square Garden tonight. It wasn't because the New York Rangers were dusting the Pittsburgh Penguins in a pivotal playoff-defining open skate. The joy was being piped in from Philadelphia like white smoke to announce a new age. Saint Peter's had done the impossible for the third time in eight days. The Peacocks, from across the Hudson in Jersey City, employing a no-nonsense effort, guile, and possibly some unexplained assist from the universe, rose to the moment and dispatched Purdue and their innate giant obstacles.
Eyes and necks looked to the heavens and saw the scoreboard of the most famous arena in the world blazing bright with the final score and news the Elite Eight had its first-ever No. 15 seed. The crowd collectively followed the script and joined the euphoria. How many of them had never heard of the school a short ferry ride away before last week? That answer doesn't matter. There are few things better in this world than the out-of-town scoreboard serving as an applause line. And there are few things better in this world than a dancing Cinderella who broke her clock so it would never strike midnight.
Surely a large section of the MSG masses followed the score bucket-by-bucket on their phones. Or streamed the game in some sort of sports-multitasking challenge. But the dopamine hit intensifies when the analog world of content creators delivers the news in 496-point font. Real magic is found in togetherness not solitude. We know what to do with teams that bust our brackets and then bust into our hearts.
March Madness is the greatest sporting event in the world because it reinforces a universal truth all fans would rather ignore. No one knows anything. The future is unknowable and the Saint Peter's of the world prove that over and over and over again. History cannot be written in advance, it must be cataloged in the present.
They're teams of destiny because they change destiny. Or what the rational portions of the brain believe is pre-written destiny. They grab the chisel and write their names on the wall by brute force and heroics. We're learning those names right now as we always do. They're forever welcomed into our consciousness.
Shaheen Holloway, the former player who feels like a sixth man at times with his unflappable demeanor. Daryl Banks III, the Los Angeles kid who created a big blue nation with 27 points against Kentucky. Doug Edert, who Kevin Harlan said looks like a young Sam Rockwell with supreme confidence and coolness — the mustache of a million memes.
A bandwagon has amassed to a side rivaling any of these storybook teams, surely the largest since Loyola with the potential to break ll of the records. Cinderellas speak to us because we all have a chip on our shoulder, no matter how hard we try to deny it. They are avatars for disrespect and constraints. To see them overcome, seemingly always on sheer will no matter how much physical talent is ever-present, affirms something inside. We champion these Davids as they slay Goliaths, most importantly, because it feels so damn good.
It's harder today than ever before to share a reality with a near-universal approval rating. Saint Peter's is that miracle, that one-in-a-million event horizon that's welcomed with open arms and pleas to cut down the nets and stay a little while longer.