Survive and Advance

It occurred to me, when Anthony Hill sank two free throws in front of a raucous, pro-Milwaukee crowd at UIC, that head coach Rob Jeter is a man of his word.

Milwaukee celebrates Senior Night on Wednesday. It's on us to make sure Anthony Hill and his fellow seniors go out on a high note.

Play well, but peak in February and March.  It wasn’t a welcome quote in November, when many diehards thought we had the team to put together an at-large resume.

We didn’t.  But the good news is that coach Jeter did come through (at least so far), and the Panthers are riding a six-game winning streak headed into a showdown at the Cell with Valparaiso.  That’s Valpo, of the 19-7 record and 11-3 first place Horizon League standing.  They’re the last team to beat Milwaukee, by 17 in January at the ARC.

Should the Panthers win, then finish running the table by dropping Cleveland State and Youngstown State, they guarantee no less than second place in the conference.  That’s the all-important second place, guaranteeing that you need only win two conference tournament games to get into the NCAA Tournament.

That’s the NCAA Tournament, the goal of every program in Division I.  The Big Dance, the biggest month in sports.

Lose, and we’re knocked down to a tie for fourth place with Wright State, forced to win four games in the conference tournament to get to the Big Dance.

This is what we need on Wednesday.

You don’t need me to tell you how important this is.  Valpo knows it.  Beat Milwaukee, and they’ve got three of the bottom four teams in the Horizon League left to play, two of which they’ve got at home.  Win, and they’re almost a shoe-in for their first Horizon League Championship of any kind.

This is a big game for both sides.  It’s Senior Night in Milwaukee, what could be the last time the Panther faithful get to see Anthony Hill, Tone Boyle, Jerard Ajami and Mitchell Carter at the Cell.  Second place in the conference is at stake, and a bye to the semifinals of the conference tournament.

Little do our fans know, the Tournament has already started for the Milwaukee Panthers.  We still have an outside shot at the conference championship and the easiest trip to the NCAA Tournament.

So talk to your buddies.  Get your friends, your family, and your coworkers riled up and in the U.S. Cellular Arena on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Shout it out on campus.  This is the BIGGEST GAME of the season, and we need every one of 2,500 students to fill the Cell.  That’s right, I said it.  We need to fill the Cell on Wednesday, especially the student section.

Every Panther needs to put it on their shoulders to get as many people in the seats as possible.

Do you bleed Black and Gold?  Are you Milwaukee?  If you’re Milwaukee ever, you’re Milwaukee right now.  Earn your stripes.

Survive and Advance.

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