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Because we choose to fight: UConn-Purdue game thread

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To: The gentleman of the Purdue University Men's Basketball Team

From: T-Mill, SLA '02 Purdue graduate

Re: Your Sweet 16 game against the Connecticut Huskies.

No one believes in you. ESPN rated you 16th in this morning's Power Poll of the remaining 16 teams. Another article rated this as the worst of the eight sweet 16 games, saying it is likely you'll lose by 15. You are the unlikely candidate to be here, the outsider, the team that can't possibly compete against their size and strength. One guy even said you would lose by 40 tonight. If you are merely competitive, forget about if you win, it will be explained away that Connecticut was clearly distracted by the issues they are facing. The media has already set things up nicely to discredit you in the event of a victory, and that is without finding what Digger has to say. You have been dismissed and doubted in the media all week. Your rivals' fans believe you aren't even worthy of being on the court with UConn:

Nickelslickgeaorge: As you have probably already figured out, the PUke fans are scum. Aren't you guys sick of low-life, no tradition schools/fans and having to deal with them?

I propose a new basketball conference/tournament:

UNC, Duke, Kentucky, IU, UCLA, Kansas, UCONN, Georgetown, Ohio State, Memphis (without Cal), Michigan State, Louisville.

These are the 12 greatest programs of all time. We should ignore these piece of crap schools like Purdue come March.

You know what? Too. Damn. Bad.

These people do not have a say in what happens tonight. The media cannot do anything. Connecticut's fans cannot do anything. Those that hate us cannot do anything. Those that love us cannot do anything. I cannot do anything.

YOU, gentlemen, are the ones that can do something about it. You are the ones that define what we fans follow. We watch, we cheer, we adjust our lives around the two hour blocks of time you give us every few nights from November to March. You are the representatives of our hearts, our minds, and our community. While many of us share a brotherhood of shared school allegiances, you are the ones at the front of that brotherhood. You are the ones that define teamwork, dedication, and hustle. Other don't like you for that. It's not pretty enough. It's not flashy enough for them. We love you for it.

You 12 gentlemen will have your say tonight. They do not think you do, but it is up to you and you alone to control the outcome of this contest. It will not beat easy. You face an opponent that has many advantages over you. That opponent does not control your heart, however. That opponent take away that which makes you most dangerous: You ability to work together. You have a say tonight because you choose to stand and fight for us. They don't expect you to fight, but we know you will fight and that is why we follow you.

I go back to what I said Sunday night:

We are still alive

Look at those four words for a moment. Right now there are 342 division 1 basketball schools with another 7 going through reclassification to move to division 1. That is 349 schools. Right now, 333 of those schools have absolutely zero chance of winning the 2009 Division 1 men's basketball national championship. Indiana and their five titles cannot win it. Kentucky cannot win it. UCLA cannot win it. Arkansas, California, Cincinnati, Florida, Georgetown, Holy Cross, LaSalle, Loyola-IL, Marquette, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, San Francisco, Stanford, UNLV, UTEP, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are all former champions in addition to the above bluebloods. They all have no chance this year of adding to their register.

Purdue can win it.

I know the mere fact that I believe Purdue can win this tournament will instantly discredit me from being a true journalist, but I do not care. Louisville, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan State, Connecticut, Purdue, Missouri, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Xavier, Villanova, Duke, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Syracuse, and Oklahoma are the only teams left that have a chance.

Your conference affiliation does not matter.

Who says who is great in the media does not matter.

Only those 16 schools matter, and we are one of those 16.

Thursday night we play Connecticut at 7:07pm at University of Phoenix Stadium. That is the most important game of the season. Should we win, the victory needs to be viewed as just as important as our win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, because the next game against Memphis or Missouri will then be the most important game of the season. Until around 9:15pm Thursday night, however, only Connecticut exists. That is all we can control, and it should be our sole focus.

We can beat these guys simply because we have a chance to beat these guys. That's should be our sole focus this week.

Look out UConn, here come the Boilers.

No one will give us a chance. Connecticut has won their games by 82 combined points. We have won ours by seven combined points. The 82 is the largest margin of victory for the 16 teams left. The seven is the smallest. The only number that matters is two though.

We have two wins in this tournament, and so do they.

You can do this, gentlemen, simply because few others say you can. Stay focused, stay smart, and most importantly, stay together tonight. Make those two hours tonight the worst two hours of their basketball playing lives and make them respect you when it is over. Show them that Defense is a beautiful thing and remind them what it means to play that way. Show them that all the talent in the world doesn't mean crap if you have fewer points than your opponent at the end of the game.

Play Hard

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