It’s amazing how you can often draw parallels in sports. When a team has a meteoric rise, it reminds of another team that had a similar rise. Or on the flip side, when a team has a not so meteoric rise, you can think of many teams in similar situations. It seems like it is rare when you can draw parallels between two teams in different sports but from the same school.
However I think this is the case between the Eagles’ men’s basketball and football teams.
Both teams rode a strong defense to unexpected places in their respective seasons. The football team found itself having a non-losing season in a long time and it almost found itself in a bowl game for the first time since the California Bowl in 1987. I don’t remember where they were picked to finish in the MAC but I suspect it wasn’t as high as they ended up. The basketball team found itself winning the MAC West despite being picked to finish last in the MAC.
What’s even more amazing is how their seasons ended in a similar fashion. For the football, I’ll use a picture that I took from the Ball State game because it’s mine and to me that was the beginning of the end for the football team. In that case, EMU needed to score a touchdown to seal the victory but they couldn’t punch the ball in the endzone and had to settle for a field goal. Ball State then proceeded to march the ball down the field far enough to get a winning field goal. So not only does the picture I use represent the game itself because it’s a shot of getting oh so close but not quite sealing the deal. It also summarizes the season for me because they went 6-6 and were oh-so-close to getting to a bowl game (to the bowl folks that only counts as 5-6 because two of those wins were against Football Championship Subdivision teams). Also, Ball State should have been a victory for EMU.
Now, the basketball team fought their way to a MAC West championship and nearly got a 4 seed in the MAC tournament which would have meant they wouldn’t have to play the first game. They rode the coat-tails of a pretty stingy defense but not-so-good offense. Then went into the MAC Tournament against a team they should have beat but it came down to missed 3-pointer at the buzzer. Now I realize that 3-pointer would have only tied the game but the way things were going, I think EMU would have pulled out the victory. But again, they came oh-so-close to glory.
One more parallel between the two teams…I think they are riding high into their respective next seasons.