Houston Cougars: The buzzer-beater loss isn’t as devastating as you think

WICHITA, KS - MARCH 17: Devin Davis
WICHITA, KS - MARCH 17: Devin Davis /

After winning the first round game of the NCAA Tournament, the University of Houston Cougars men’s basketball team was seconds away from advancing to the Sweet 16. But then, they were given a stark reminder of one of the most devastating losses in the city’s history.

I’m sure all of you are probably thinking the same thing. Whether you were an alumnus of the University of Houston Cougars or are a diehard Houston sports fan, you have to be asking yourself the same question.

What just happened?

How did this come about again? The Houston Cougars were just seconds away from advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16. All they had to do was stop the Michigan Wolverines one time and they win. Instead, they made one bad mistake in not guarding the in-bounds passer and it led to the buzzer-beater of the tournament to this point.

While everyone is making a big deal about this nationally, and they should because it’s March Madness, there are those that sit down and are questioning the sports gods as to why a familiar nightmare had to happen. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably need to remind yourself:

  • 1983 National Title Game
  • NC State
  • Buzzer-Beater Heartbreak
  • Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler were on the team.
  • One of the greatest upsets ever in sports history.

For those that are crying probably, there are at least a few consolation prizes for them.

  1. Thanks to #16 UMBC’s upset over #1 Virginia, we no longer have to deal with NC State upsetting Houston as the best upset in college basketball history.
  2. Both Houston and NC State have 30 for 30’s about their teams although one got more likes than the other.

But in case you are concerned and worried about another Houston heartbreak…

Don’t Be!

Let’s be honest here. While this was Houston’s first trip back to the NCAA Tournament in some time, we didn’t expect the Cougars to win it all. As a six-seed, they’re best chance was going to the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight at best. We knew entering the Michigan game, that Houston was the underdogs because Michigan was the #3 seed.

I’ll admit that I did pick Michigan to beat Houston in the second-round because 1) I’m not a UH alum even though I spent most of my life in Houston and 2) I didn’t expect UH to go far at all.

Let’s say the Houston Cougars beat Michigan in the second round game, they would have to take on either #7 Texas A&M or #2 North Carolina (UPDATE: Texas A&M upset North Carolina 86-65 today) Let’s say North Carolina had won. Houston will have a tough game against the defending

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national champion Tar Heels, who have always been one of the most elite teams in college basketball lore. Against Texas A&M, it would be another tough challenge coming from an SEC school. This is probably the farthest I see Houston going unless they win, which they would encounter either #1 Xavier and #4 Gonzaga afterward.

What are the chances the Cougars get out of the Elite Eight to the Final Four? Probably not good.

Funny Feeling

Then the other thing we should remind ourselves is that while the loss to Michigan was eerily similar to 1983, it is not the worst pain in Houston sports lore. Sure, we missed free throws late on Saturday much like we did back then. Sure we lost on a buzzer-beater that was devastating since we had the lead while we were tied in 1983. But compare the rounds.

Round of 32 vs. National Championship.

The 1983 Cougars will tell you that the 2017 team gets off easily because they were in the second round.

Besides, life is good in Houston. We got teams ranging from championship-caliber to eventual contenders. So the Cougars didn’t let the city of Houston down. They got nowhere to go but up for next season. Now, if they do fall back, it won’t be like they choked. They just didn’t get the players needed to go onto next year.

Next: Why our Houston Sports teams have reached the Golden Age


So here’s the deal. Don’t treat the loss as a disaster. Treat the loss like the future is bright. We won’t know if Houston will have a reincarnation of the Phi Slamma Jamma days. But we do know that after a season like the Cougars just had, college basketball should be back in H-Town.