Indianapolis: Butler-ing It Up at the Final Four.

The first weekend of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament just wrapped up, part of what is known as March Madness. All this college basketball going on brings back memories from 2010 when I had the chance to experience the Final Four in Indianapolis. Arriving at the hotel I had souvenirs, special event passes and championship game tickets waiting for me, provided through a vendor at my day job.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

What made this weekend even more exciting was the fact that a home-town cinderella was taking part, Indianapolis’s own Butler Bulldogs, as well as…

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

…the team and school I’ve been cheering since I was little, the Michigan State Spartans.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

The Duke Blue Devils and West Virginia Mountaineers were also there, as well as signage promoting the event throughout the downtown area. There is no better place for the final games than Indiana, the true home of basketball. The passion is unmatched. Just take a drive through the countryside and you’ll see a basketball net hung up everywhere imaginable. 🙂

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Before the basketball hoopla I took advantage of the passes to the NCAA Hall of Champions, where you can checkout the various champions in countless collegiate sports and…

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, NCAA Hall of Champions

…the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500 auto race.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indiana, Final Four

One of the special events over the weekend was Bracket Town.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

There was great food, entertainment and basketball experiences for people of all ages.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

Indianapolis threw a great party. Of course here and throughout the weekend you were bound to run into celebrities, coaches of other college basketball teams not playing, announcers and who knows else.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

I had the chance to watch a cook off up-close with a certain head coach from the Indiana Hooisers and the main boss of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (he now coaches at George Mason University). Also, over the course of the weekend, even though I’m a Spartan fan, it was nice to get an autograph and my picture taken with Michigan Wolverines basketball coach Jim Beilein.

I didn’t go to the semi-final games where unfortunately Michigan State lost to Butler. 😦 Duke beat West Virginia in the other game setting up a match of goliath vs. the hometown small-school cinderella. There were lots of “Hooisers” comparisons being made. Will Gene Hackman be making an appearance I thought. 🙂

The National Championship game day began with a Butler Bulldog pep rally in Monument Circle, the center of the city.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

Go Dawgs!!!

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

A good crowd gathered wearing lots of blue and white, me included. I became a Butler Bulldog fan over the course of the weekend. I was a little disappointed when they lose a few days ago in this years tournament.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Butler University Dawgs

All the hoopla was over, it was Monday evening now and game time. It was time to head over to Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts NFL football team. They used to play the Final Four and National Championship games in traditional basketball arenas, but due to increased media demand, fan interest and of course the bottom line, most are now played in domes and indoor football facilities.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, Lucas Oil Stadium

The Road Ends Here. One game left.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

The hometown Butler Bulldogs and the traditional-power Duke Blue Devils are about to do battle.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

It was finally hitting me. I was at my first championship level sporting event. I can check something off the good ole travel bucket list.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

The battle lines were drawn. Butler students and fans alongside the floor on one side.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

Duke fans on the other. Of course the crowd was predominantly for the hometown team.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

I wore the blue and white proudly watching the small Indiana school come within one half-court shot of shocking the country and winning it all.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four, National Championship, Duke, Butler

There was no Hooiser magical ending as Duke took home the final prize, but the Bulldogs captured the hearts of the nation and provided a weekend myself and Indianapolis will never forget.

Indianapolis, Indiana, Final Four

What’s the biggest sporting event you’ve attended while traveling?

8 responses to “Indianapolis: Butler-ing It Up at the Final Four.

  1. Am from Indian, went to Butler University–enjoyed the photographs you shared of Indianapolis during your time there. Sorry Butler did not win, but that’s what happens in events such as these, or even the Academy Awards. The way of life…

    • Thanks! Yep you win some, you loss some, but experience of the event will always be there! Everyone was sad, but happy they got so far. 🙂

  2. To date it would be the Italian F1 Grand Prix, also in 2010. I tried to see an NHL game a few years before while in North America but that was the season no games got played. (Visited Indianapolis that trip for drag racing and to see the Indy speedway.) We’re back in the US in Oct and will go to NASCAR and maybe catch some hockey and college football. Everything happens on such a big scale there, any or all of those things will be very cool to experience.

    • Never been to a racing event. With lots of time in the ATL and the South, I need to make that happen sometime. It’s college football and NASCAR that rule in the southern states. Hope you can catch some college football when your here and the pre-game tailgating too. Checking out a town and the atmosphere before a game is sometimes just as fun! 🙂

  3. The biggest game I saw traveling was the Notre Dame/Tennessee football game where Tennessee came back from an 18 point deficit to shock top ranked Notre Dame on the road. My personal travel story getting there was just as incredible as my car broke down in Lebanon, Indiana, and I had to hitchhike the rest of the way.

    This was a great year for the tournament with Butler shocking many to make it all the way to the finals. I just wish that shot from Gordon Haywood would have dropped.

    • Yeah, that would have been unreal. The town would have gone nuts. Probably would have extended my time there to celebrate. 🙂 I checked out the Notre Dame campus a while back and walked around the football stadium. Got goosebumps. Definitely need to get to a game someday! A miracle comeback for your team and what it took to get to the game, great memories!

  4. That’s an awesome experience and looks like you had a blast. As a lifelong Detroit sports fan I’ve been fortunate while living in Detroit to go to multiple Stanley Cup games (my grandfather had season tickets) but since living in Chicago I’ve traveled back for the World Series both times the Tigers have made it in the past six years. Unfortunately, they’ve only won one of the four games I’ve attended but hey maybe this is there year right?!

    • Lots of passion in the D for the home teams. Have been to a few Tigers and Red Wings games over the years. It’s a great city to watch a game in the bar too. The closest I got to a big time event and celebrating was hanging out right by Joe Louis when Pittsburgh beat Detroit in G7 of the Finals. Can’t imagine the scene down there if the game would have gone the other way. Tigers look like they will be good for years to come, esp. with Verlander signing an extension. 🙂 Spend lots of time in Chicago, great sports town too! The Cubs have to win one of these years, right?!

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