At this point, the Maroons’ fate may very well be out of their hands. After dropping their game against NYU last week, the UChicago men’s basketball team’s postseason hopes will lie with the NCAA. However, while their tournament fate may hang in the balance, the squad will help their case greatly if they can win their last game of the season this Saturday against the Wash U Bears.
“We have to prepare the same way we have all year,” noted the fourth-year forward Alex Voss. “In one sense it is a huge game but in another way it’s just like every other game. If we put the time and effort in, and we play disciplined and remain focused that will give us the best shot of winning.”
However, it might be more than just another game for Voss on Saturday, as this could be the last time he and his fellow senior teammates don a Maroon jersey. The team will be celebrating Senior Day on the court before the game, making the match a special moment in these athletes’ lives.
“I'm always going to remember my time with these seniors,” said second-year forward Collin Barthel. “I love all six of them and they each bring something a little different to the table. They are a great group of guys that I have enjoyed being able to experience my time with here at UChicago.”
“It really hasn't set in,” added an emotional Voss. “I’ve been playing basketball as long as I can remember and its surreal to think this is the last of one of the last few games I have left. Makes me want to go out with a win real bad.”
Speaking of winning, the Maroons eked out a 70–69 victory the last time they played the Bears – thanks to a buzzer beater from fourth-year Jordan Smith. Chicago will be looking for the same result this time, but their success is going to lie in executing on the defensive side of the ball.
“We have to be solid on the defensive end,” noted Barthel. “They have smart guys that capitalize off of your mistakes so, any type of defensive lapse is going to be an easy bucket for them.”
Regardless of the outcome on Saturday or of the Maroon’s postseason bid, the game against the Bears will be the culmination of a memorable season for what has been a special UChicago squad. The team rebounded from a slow start, achieving a No. 11 ranking nationally while ripping off an incredible 13-game winning streak. However, the team doesn’t think they’re done defining their legacy.
“Our team has never had a problem walking into a gym with a chip on our shoulder,” said an excited Barthel. “What this game brings is that slight nervousness that we need to win to keep playing. This team has the ability to overcome adversity.”
The Maroons will tip off against the Bears at the Ratner Athletic Center at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.