Last night, the Madness continued as No. 11 seed Xavier knocked off No. 2 seed Arizona 73-71. Although the game was back and forth, Arizona had a 71-64 lead toward the end until Xavier got hot and went on a 9-0 run to steal the win.
Xavier headed to the Elite 8, and was the 8th team seeded 11th or lower to reach this round in tournament history. Making the win even sweeter was the fact that Arizona knocked out Xavier in the 2015 Sweet 16—now the roles were reversed.
When you add the intrigue of Arizona’s head coach Sean Miller playing not only against his former team, his former assistant and now Xavier Head Coach Chris Mack, a great rivalry has developed.
Many people were picking Arizona to win the NCAA Tournament this year, as Sean Miller is considered one of the top coaches in the game. There has been pressure placed on him to lead a team to his first Final Four, but unfortunately, he’s going to have to wait another year.
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This was certainly a disappointment for Miller—losing the 7-point lead at the end, seeing his team miss the final shot, and knowing his former team was moving on. But realizing that a lot of coaches express understandable anger after a tough loss like this, I was blown away by his post-game actions.
While Xavier’s players were hugging each other and running around the court in excitement, Miller was determined to congratulate the guys that just sent his team home. He interrupted their celebration to make sure he acknowledged them in some way.
Normally we witness the traditional post-game line of handshakes, but this was such a big upset that chaos ensued. Although the losing coach usually storms off to the locker room, Miller made a surprise effort to chase after the exuberant winners with his sincere congratulations.
This special moment really jumped out to me because as difficult as it must have been to make the effort to encourage the winning team, that’s exactly what he did.
This extraordinary gesture had me thinking about finding ways to do something similar in my own life. I’m sure we can all think of someone who needs to be congratulated or thanked or acknowledged along the way, even though it’s easy to get fixated on our own circumstances and miss what’s going on around us.
What are ways we can put aside our pride and make a humble gesture for someone?
How can we stand out as followers of Jesus in our response to losses in life?
How can we sacrifice in order to make others feel valued, appreciated, and celebrated?
It’s simple: when we follow Jesus’ example of humility and selflessness, we make a difference in people’s lives. We don’t always have to make grand gestures, but simply take the initiative and be supportive in their special moments.
The Bible says in Philippians 2:3 (ESV), “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
I Peter 3:8 (ESV) also reminds us, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”
Today, let’s consider the ways we can put aside our pride in order to celebrate or encourage someone else.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, it’s hard letting go of pride and not being upset when someone else is doing well and I’m not. I pray that I would be more like Jesus – filled with humility and selflessness, so that I can make a difference in other people’s lives. I pray I would have sympathy, brotherly love, and a tender heart. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Check out more from Bryce Johnson on sports, faith, and life at Unpackin’It