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.
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…
…the team and school I’ve been cheering since I was little, the Michigan State Spartans.
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. 🙂
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…
…the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500 auto race.
One of the special events over the weekend was Bracket Town.
There was great food, entertainment and basketball experiences for people of all ages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Road Ends Here. One game left.
The hometown Butler Bulldogs and the traditional-power Duke Blue Devils are about to do battle.
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.
The battle lines were drawn. Butler students and fans alongside the floor on one side.
Duke fans on the other. Of course the crowd was predominantly for the hometown team.
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.
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.
What’s the biggest sporting event you’ve attended while traveling?