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March 22, 2012Are you kidding me? Is this a dream? Toledo will host Syracuse Saturday afternoon in the WNIT Elite 8. No, I'm not joking.
Let's go back to one year ago to set the stage. It was Sunday, March 27th.....2011. Toledo was in the midst of an improbable run in the WNIT.
Syracuse opened up a 12 point 2nd half lead, and the Rockets run in the WNIT looked to be coming to an end. Then Naama Shafir took over and the Rockets went on to win the game 71-68 in overtime. The win would propel Toledo to a WNIT National Championship after wins over Charlotte (Final Four) and USC (Championship Game).
5001 fans packed into Savage Arena last year to watch the Lady Rockets take on Syracuse. This year, I'm expecting more fans.
Why? Fast forward to Saturday, September 24th. The Toledo football team traveled to Syracuse, New York to take on the Big East football program. The game went back and forth, and then controversy hit.
Toledo led the game 27-23 until Syracuse scored on an 18 yard touchdown pass with just 2:07 to play in the game. Syracuse had a 29-27 lead, and then the infamous extra point attempt came. Syracuse kicker Ross Krautman clearly missed the extra point, wide left.
Officials called the kick good. Somehow, an official review also determined that the kick was good, despite video evidence on ESPN that clearly showed the kick was wide left.
Toledo went down the field and kicked a game-tying 20 yard field goal as regulation time expired. Instead of winning the game by one point, Toledo now had to go to overtime. An interception on the first offensive play of overtime for Toledo led to a Syracuse field goal and 33-30 victory.
The controversy was not over though. The news hit millions of television users and Internet viewers by way of ESPN and You Tube. Toledo petitioned the Big East to overturn the outcome of the game, but all that came was an apology from the Big East for the blown call.
And now we fast forward again to Thursday, March 22nd......2012. Toledo takes care of business with an 81-64 victory over VCU in the WNIT to advance to the WNIT Elite 8. Meanwhile Syracuse defeats Temple 82-68 to advance to the WNIT Elite 8.
The WNIT bracket just so happened to have Toledo and Syracuse in the same region, setting up a rematch of last year's WNIT Elite 8 game. And after the blown PAT call in last fall's Toledo/Syracuse football game, this game is very intriguing.
Every single student-athlete at the University of Toledo knows what happened on 9/24/2011. With no future football game currently scheduled with Syracuse, this is the "revenge" game for Toledo, as a whole university.
You better believe that the UT women's basketball team wants to advance to the WNIT Final Four for a second straight year. You better believe that they want to beat Syracuse to not only accomplish that feat, but also to avenge the bitter football loss for their fellow student-athletes.
And you better believe that every Rocket fan remembers September 24, 2011 and will be even more fired up than usual Saturday afternoon.
My advice, you better get your tickets as soon as possible, and you better be ready for a loud and rowdy crowd at Savage Arena.