2030 Absolute Madness

We have had many forks in the road... this may be the right way (finally)

This comfortably cold March Saturday morning in Milwaukee is brimming with enthusiasm and excitement.

After outlasting 4-seed Oregon (OT) and 8-seeded Purdue (2OT) in the 2030 NCAA Tournament's first weekend in Arizona, Milwaukee just did the unthinkable Friday night in Phoenix: they upset overall #1 seed Kansas and prepare for the first Elite Eight appearance in Milwaukee Panther program history.

In 9 overall appearences, Milwaukee has reached three Sweet 16s but has never until this tournament won a regional semifinal.

The entire city is bedlem. The bar scene has looked like St. Patrick's Day for every single game (not just the games Marquette, Wisconsin or Milwaukee play in). But everyone is all smiles- especially what with Bucky and the Golden Eagles also in this Wisconsin-leaning set of four regional finals games that remain.

But a bit of recent history is in order to the casual fan only now noticing the emerging powerhouse that is the Milwaukee Panthers. Things over on the East Side of Milwaukee took a pronounced turn toward the serious when (then Milwaukee, now NBA assistent head coach for the Hornets) Bart Lundy came to town in the Spring of 2022. Back then, long before becoming the dark horse disruptive Vegas darling of the Missouri Valley, the Panthers were celler dwellers in the now-defunct Horizon League. 

But that would all change (and how profoundly) in a string (4 in 5 beautiful seasons) of Big Dance appearences that led to Milwaukee's second and third! Sweet 16 appearances, as well as Lundy getting the North Carolina job before he jumped to the big leagues. All it took was a culture change and an adherence to preparation, accountability and results that only the most elite winners know- both the struggle and the evergreen fruits of it all.

Lundy began his tenure with a loud bang- turning over virtually the entire Milwaukee roster from the last, and most heartbreaking of Pat Baldwin's teams. Panther fans including myself were a bit perplexed- is this how it normally goes? We weren't to know as Bo Ryan, Bruce Pearl, Rob Jeter, LaVall Jordan and Pat Baldwin all retained healthy portions of the Panther rosters they inherited.

But such is the magic of some play callers who are also life guiders and belief builders- Milwaukee would, after a putrid 10-22 record in '21-'22, exceed even the absurdist of expectations, streaking to a............. 🏀✨

Anything can happen; that's why we play the games.

go panthers
press on.