Tom Crean's 2002-2003 Golden Eagles team entered the season ranked in the Top 20 and plenty of reasons to feel good about their season outlook. However, after early season back to back losses to East Carolina and Dayton the Golden Eagles didn't look like a team bound for tournament glory.
Marquette regrouped and went 15-1 in their last 16 regular season games, good enough to earn a #3 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament. A close win vs. Holy Cross, and an 8 point victory vs. Mizzou put the Golden Eagles in the Sweet 16. Another close win vs. #2 seed Pitt setup a Regional Final showdown with #1 Kentucky.
Kentucky had 5 NBA players on their roster and entered the Regional Final with a record of 32-3. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Marquette had Dwyane Wade. 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists later Marquette was headed to their first Final Four since 1977! It was simply one of the greatest individual performances in the history of the NCAA Tournament and one that would help propel Wade into a global superstar in years to come.
"I was going to give it my all. I told the guys at halftime, 'Leave your hearts on the court.' Tonight I just took whatever they gave me and it worked for us."