The reason behind Bill Murray’s Xavier March Madness sadness on Sunday
ST. LOUIS – Eleven years earlier he was in the same city just a little bit down the street from where he was on Sunday evening.
That was 2005 and one of Chicago’s favorite actors donned the Orange and Blue to support perhaps the biggest moment in Illinois basketball history.
That was the Final Four when the Illini advanced to the National Championship for the first time in school history. Murray became a fan of the dynamic team throughout the season and was there for their Sweet 16 and Elite 8 wins in Rosemont and then followed them to the Edward Jones Dome for the Final Four.
Murray’s trip was filled with happiness and sadness since the Illini beat Louisville to reach their first title game on Saturday but lost to Carolina in the final the next Monday. All in all it was a heck of a ride for the fan of the orange and blue.
Once again on Sunday, 11 years after putting on the orange, Murray was back in St. Louis to root on a team in the NCAA Tournament again. This time he was wearing just blue with a little white to cheer on Xavier.
This time the picture’s weren’t as happy.
This was Murray at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis moments after his second-seeded Musketeers were knocked off on a last-second three-pointer by Wisconsin on Sunday night.
It’s a far cry from the cheery Murray people saw with the Illini. Instead the longtime actor was feeling a lot of sorrow following the defeat on a last-second three-pointer by the Badgers’ Bronson Koenig. But this wasn’t a case of “Jumping on the Bandwagon” for Murray, who has a very personal connection to the program.
His son Luke is an assistant coach for the Xavier and that shot ended his first season plus a shot at his first Sweet 16 as a basketball coach. Joining the Muskateers is the latest step in Murray’s ascent as a college coach that began when he became the director of basketball operations at Quinnipiac in 2007.
The following year he was a graduate assistant at Arizona and then got his first full coaching job at Wagner College in New York. He then went to Towson University as an assistant for two years before spending another pair of seasons at Rhode Island before going to Xavier at the beginning of this year.
Working under head coach Chris Mack, Murray helped Xavier to a 28-6 record this season with a second place finish in the Big East. Their efforts in the regular season earned them a two-seed in the tournament but that wasn’t enough to keep them from the heartbreak of March Madness.
Maybe next season Bill can be a little happier in March when he dons the Blue and White in support of his son in 2017.