LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Whether it was the back to back overtime games, or Saturday’s gut wrenching loss, Purdue fans continue to amass a mental history of NCAA torment.
However, despite the past three years of late season disappointment, fans continue to feverishly show up to support the Black and Gold. It was never more apparent than during the Boilermaker’s Elite 8 loss to Virginia.
Fans began flooding Louisville by mid-afternoon, turning the city into “West Lafayette South.” Ryne Marshall came to Kentucky from Seattle just for the game. He said he was tired of clinging to 2000, the last time Purdue had a shot at the Final Four prior to this year.
“That was when Dick Bennett was coaching Wisconsin, and my favorite [Purdue] player from all-time is Brian Cardinal,” Marshall said.
Cardinal scored 13 points as Purdue lost 64-60 to Wisconsin. Ironically, it was Bennett’s son Tony who coached Virginia Saturday night. Now he and his father have Elite 8 wins over Purdue.
“I was a season ticket holder [when] I watched them beat Wisconsin,” Purdue alumni Mark Baird said. “But they couldn’t get it done against Wisconsin in the Elite 8. These guys have been proving people wrong all year,” Baird said of the current Purdue squad.
Baird and his friend David Sharp watched Purdue make the Final Four in 1980, and they had been hoping the Boilermakers could pull out a win. Sharp expected to celebrate Saturday night, but joked it would be “Probably a bit more calmly than we did in our youth.”
Rich Knipstein graduated from Purdue in 1966, or as he said “Back in the dark ages.” During his time as a student, Mackey Arena was still being built.
“When I graduated we played in Lambert Fieldhouse,” Knipstein said.
The Boilermakers made it to the Final Four just three years after he graduated. Knipstein and his wife Gwen watched from afar as his team lost to Purdue icon John Wooden and UCLA.
“We were too young then,” Knipstein joked about not being able to go to the game, “Did not have the coin unfortunately.”
He and his wife do have the ability to now, and have traveled to nearly every Purdue game during this NCAA tournament run. Gwen Knipstein said the rain on Saturday would bring good luck, unfortunately for them, it felt more like tears.