It's happened before. Even in the women's game.
The giant fell.
But hardly anybody paid attention — before now.
Sunday night, the world paid attention when No. 5 Louisville upset No. 1 Baylor. It might not seem like a big upset because it wasn't a No. 15 over a No. 2, but upsets rarely happen in the women's tournament — and Baylor rarely loses — at least since Brittney Griner's been in green. That combination is what made the world turn to Oklahoma City.
As Baylor's Brittney Griner, arguably the greatest player to ever be a part of the women's game, knelt to the floor and hid her head in her jersey, much of the world, based on TV ratings and Twitter analysis, was watching. It was like all of a sudden the nation cared about women's basketball — all it took was for the game's biggest giant of them all to fall.
“That's why you play the game,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “It's a game, and all bets are off. “
On average, the topic of “Baylor” was tweeted about between 1,801 to 3,084 times per day last week per searches on Topsy, a website and company that analyzes billions of tweets and Web pages. On Sunday at 8:47 p.m., when the loss was complete and Baylor coach Kim Mulkey had just ended her press conference, Topsy's trend data reflects that 33,607 tweets were sent out about Baylor. That was the peak of tweets that started with 2,507 mentions about two hours before during the game.
“Nobody in the world thought we'd even come close to beating them,” Louisville's senior forward Monique Reid said Monday.
Yet many in the world had something to say. Tweets came from as far away as Lagos, Nigeria and London, England.
“Only time I follow women's basketball is to make sure UConn wins and Baylor loses” said a Twitter user from the U.K..
He wasn't the only one.
Louisville coach Jeff Walz said Saturday in a press conference that some of his friends never watch the NCAA Women's Tournament because it's always the same teams that make the Final Four.
“I did get a few to actually say they watched it from start to finish, which was great,” Walz said Monday with a smile. “I've got some friends that I played college ball with where they were like, ‘I just actually watched the entire game and enjoyed it,' and I text them back, ‘There's a lot more that are like this than you think.'
“So hopefully, (I'm) going to be able to get three or four of them because I know the three that actually texted me all have daughters that I'm like, ‘Guys, you're going to have to go watch them play one day, so you might want to start joining now.'”
Converting college basketball fans to the women's side is one of Walz's goals. He's done it in Louisville — where the team averaged, he said, about 3,300 fans per home game when he took over as head coach six years ago.
“Now, we're at close to 10,000,” Walz said.
After their Sunday victory, the Cardinals players saw photos of their impact on Instagram. Junior Antonita Slaughter said one of the photos was of a Louisville city bus that was stopped because so many people were surrounding it as they celebrated.
It was more than just people in Louisville watching, though. ESPN2's broadcast of the Baylor-Lousiville game earned the highest rating (0.9) of a Regional semifinal game since March 28, 2010 when it was Oklahoma vs. Notre Dame (1.0) and Kentucky vs. Nebraska. (0.9)
This time, when the giant fell, Walz said he hoped people were watching.
“At the end there, it could have gone either way,” Walz said. “But I think win or lose, ... it was still going to be a great day for women's basketball just because of the excitement that we threw into it.”