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WINNING: Perhaps the Most Heartwarming Story You’ll Read About the BIG EAST Tournament

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Why this team will be the most special team for one special fan. Me.

Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament - Championship Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Throughout my time as a fan of the Georgetown Hoyas, I’ve had a lot of favorite teams and players, however, this 2020-21 BIG EAST Tournament Championship squad is without a doubt my absolute favorite. Even with recent events, it’s hard not to smile when thinking about that squad.

The toughness and grit they showed up in New York was incredible. Their improvements in defense and ball movement since the COVID pause were inspirational. The coaching staff had the team prepared and disciplined. The leadership coming from both upperclassmen and rookies, at called-upon times, was nothing short of magical. For all those reasons, I will remember this team as well or more than any other. Also, they’re the only Georgetown team that ever won me $4,000.

It all started when I allegedly stole someone’s COVID vaccine and gambled with my life by buying a $40 SPIRIT Airlines flight for the night of the championship game. The details in between are foggy, but somehow I ended up watching the championship game from a Florida Hooters. Let’s start at the beginning with the lead up to the UConn game.

My quest to place a wager began on March 3rd, a week before the games started, when I discovered that the odds were reported to be +20,000.

I’m not a big gambler. I annually place a wager on the Kentucky Derby horses that Casual Hoya tells me to and I bet an over/under on an NBA game in Las Vegas about a decade ago. Also, I enjoy free cocktails at the Blackjack tables. I tried Daily Fantasy for one intense football season but, generally, online gambling was new to me.

I was too impatient to wait for the replies and fired off another tweet.

Thankfully, I received some help and advice from some wise Georgetown fans for my first online sports wager.

And I also received some not-so-helpful insight from basketball fans.

Nevertheless, I proceeded to find a way to place a bet on the Georgetown Hoyas.

I did my research and no one was actually offering +20,000 odds to me, so I’m not kicking myself. The best odds I found were +8000 at BetMGM. I made a new account for the app and deposited $100. Then I placed my wager for $50 because I got cold feet and didn’t want to lose it all. This seems like a good time to say that gambling is not a wise choice and this is not advice nor do I have any idea what I’m doing.

My $50 wager on Georgetown to win the 2021 BIG EAST Tournament

The decision to hold back $50 is one I am still kicking myself for. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t believe Georgetown is going to win as much as it was a lack of faith in correctly placing the electronic wager and just losing all $100 outright. You know, like when you insert the bill in the Coke machine and nothing comes out?

Still, I was pretty proud at the time that I put some money on the line for my beloved Hoyas. 50 bucks is a lot of money to some, but it’s also about my beer budget for the first half of a game at Madison Square Garden. Still, I did not tell my wife.

I did, however, write about the odds in the BIG EAST Tournament “EXPECTATIONS” post:

...last week I was asking on Twitter about what “+20000” odds would pay out and yesterday morning I finally signed up for MGM and wagered a small sum on +8000 odds. I have very little knowledge about gambling, but if the odds are lowering to +6000, it seems like Vegas is taking a look at Georgetown and giving them a bit of a shot.

Something to monitor heading into Wednesday afternoon.

The odds were indeed lowering—because Vegas knew that the Hoyas had a decent chance of winning the whole damn thing. So did I.

In fact, the Hoyas took down Marquette and Villanova and I found myself in a precarious position because I had a flight on Friday evening and it looked like I might miss watching the semifinal games. This was pretty upsetting considering I usually go to the BIG EAST Tournament. Even last year I was at MSG watching the implosion against St. John’s.

But this year, I had double-booked my Friday night. You see, several weeks earlier, I received the vaccine and my two weeks were finally up. For a while, I felt guilt for allegedly jumping in line before older people (e.g., my 70-year old high school teacher mother), but because of a myriad of my own health issues and the fact that my nurse wife still working closely with COVID patients and could infect me any day, my guilt mostly dissipated. (Fun fact, the site where I received my vaccine was actually steps away from Sesame Place in Langhorne, PA for anyone in the mid-Atlantic area who might know that penultimate childhood destination).

I did however feel guilt for gambling with my life on a budget airline to a west-coast Florida town to visit family. But the $40 ticket price was enough to make me forget that the flight for Friday evening might coincide with the scheduling of the BIG EAST Tournament. Also, I invited vaccinated friends.

Luckily, the Hoyas were in the top-half of the bracket and had the earlier game on Friday night. My travel party found a socially-distant booth in one of the greatest places to drink and watch a game: an airport bar. Even better, it was Philly’s own Chikie’s & Pete’s in Terminal E.

Semi-open-air Chickie’s & Pete’s at PHL

This was my first indoor bar experience in a year and it did not disappoint. While I ate French fries with Old Bay (Crabfries), buffalo chicken tenders, shrimp, burgers and other deliciously unhealthy snacks with my several Miller Lites, I watched Georgetown pull off a fantastic finish to overcome Seton Hall and move on to the championship game. My companions and I had just enough adult beverages to ensure that the flight crew had to ask us more than once if we were sure we were OK to assist in the emergency exit aisle.

The next day, at the beach—again, masking and distancing to stay safe—my friend asked if I had heard of any Hoyas fans placing any crazy bets on Georgetown to win. Occasionally we see some big bets on Twitter or hear about someone from a local Philadelphia or AC casino. Out of ear-shot of my wife, I admitted to him that I had a small wager that could pay off big-time if Georgetown finished the deed against Creighton. Deciding that I was the goofy Georgetown fan that made the bet everyone would be talking about, we concluded that there was only one place to go to watch the game that evening: Hooters.

Hooters Naples

Lucky for me, my wife is prettier and sweeter than any server at Hooters, and she loves the wings. We ate quite a few chickens-worth of wings that night and drank several pitchers while watching the most dominant BIG EAST Championship game I can remember in recent memory. Things got a little hazy after asking our bartender Jaime to sign the bikini calendar I bought.

The game was fantastic and, with the blow-out, the I pressure I felt to win this bet was minimal. Of course some locals took interest in us and the game and came to understand the significance. One golf pro was even familiar with the Casual Hoya blog and we all started screaming when he saw this televised Tweet.

After the game, we did some celebratory shots and I double-checked my betting slip. Easily the most fun and efficient $4,000 I’ve made. I’m sure my Uber driver loved hearing that five times on the way home.

When I awoke the next day with a special kind of hangover, I withdrew my winnings on the app. Even though I had been celebrating wildly for a bit, it didn’t feel real until that sober moment. I won my first online bet and it was a wager on Georgetown!

We had a lovely rest of the week in beautiful Naples. We saw a Spring Training baseball game, played golf at a great course, we hit the beach, we had numerous outdoor, safe happy hours, and generally had a great time in beautiful weather. The one downside was that I was not able to join the post-championship Georgetown discussions because I was too busy relaxing and drinking.

Everything on the trip felt and tasted better because we were BIG EAST champions—and more importantly, we were winners and winners go to Hooters.