MILWAUKEE -- The Marquette Golden Eagles are in the Sweet 16, and although few Marquette students will follow the team to Phoenix, many were on hand to show support Tuesday during a send-off celebration.
One year ago, Marquette was an 11-seed that upset its way out of the first weekend of the NCAA March Madness Tournament. Now, they're a favorite in the Sweet 16, as a three-seed.
Fans that love Marquette were on hand Tuesday to wish the team well in Phoenix. One little girl, five-year-old Lilly Blechacz loves the Marquette Golden Eagles, but she really loves one player in particular. "When I went to the Marquette game, I asked my dad who he was, and he said 'Jae Crowder,' and I saw his hair, so that's why I like him," Lilly said. The family came to Tuesday's send-off celebration, hoping little Lilly could meet her favorite Golden Eagle.
Other fans are hoping Marquette will win two games in the desert, and head to the Final Four. Students say there's a different kind of energy on campus. "It's been ecstatic. I mean, we were on Spring Break last week, and coming back on Sunday, the campus was absolutely energetic and excited," Marquette freshman Byron Tsokolas said.
The excitement showed as the team boarded the bus. For five-year-old Lilly, seeing Crowder was just the beginning. He came back down off the bus after hearing about his biggest little fan. "It was exciting for me to see her be able to meet him and shake his hand. He asked 'is she watching the games?' and she said her daddy took her to the Marquette game. He asked if he could give her a hug. I was like, 'awww,'" Lilly's mom, Bethany Blechacz said.
"He told me to watch the games, and told me he liked me and I showed him my doll," Lilly said.
Lilly also wanted to make it clear - she likes Darius Johnson-Odom too. Lilly plans to watch the game Thursday night, which starts around 9:15 p.m.