Ever wondered what it would be like to be front-and-center at the NCAA Big East Tournament, one of the most exciting times of the year in the sports world? Well here's your chance. And mine.
This Pennsylvania transplant who's still smarting from the Steeler's Super Bowl loss, attended her first Division I basketball game, where Cincinnati battled South Florida at Madison Square Garden last night. Okay so they played a game, but first can I tell you about my seats? Three sections up and off to the side. Not exactly courtside, but so good that I fully expected to be hobnobbing with Ashton Kutcher and other b-ball loving celebs. Except Ashton wasn't there and neither was Demi, and, er, it seems about 19,000 fans forgot to show up, too.
But hey -- lookee me over here in the VIP seats! -- I'm not complaining, or criticizing. The game was in New York, quite a trek for most Cincinnati and South Florida fans, and all 25 them were sitting near the court (and that's counting the cheerleaders). The game was relatively tame, as fans from both of these teams seemed rather complacent that they probably won't advance too far in this tournament.
I took this photo, below, about 10 minutes before 7 p.m. game time. The amount of fans equaled the amount of energy with which South Florida played: Even though the Bulls upset Villanova to get to this game, they looked tired and sluggish, and it showed in the final score: Cincinnati won 87-61.
Things started looking up at halftime. West Virginia and Marquette fans starting wandering in, getting to their seats for the 9 p.m. game. The place was becoming livelier and rowdier by the minute, and any sports fan could appreciate the growing buzz and anticipation. As our tickets allowed us to attend both the 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. games, we decided, what the heck, might as well stick around for the second one!
Look! Lots of people! They even cheered when their team scored baskets! Three intense Mountaineers fans sat in front of us, standing up and blocking our view each time West Virginia scored or turned the ball over. To the right of us were two equally intense Golden Eagles fans, grabbing for dear life onto the seats in front of them, losing all circulation in their knuckles, swigging beers and yelling obscenities about the opposing players' mothers. Ah, thanks guys, you reminded me that this is what I love about sports.
Although West Virginia led by 7 at the half, Marquette was able to pull off a 67-61 win, much to the chagrin of the poor, loyal, travel-weary fans in front of us.
But what struck me the most in the midst of all the tournament excitement? The fact that they are complete sausage-fests. If you're a single lady, you really oughta book tickets for next year. Seriously, you could walk for 5 minutes straight in the bowels of the venue and not see one woman. And -- bonus! -- no bathroom lines!
Pittsburgh vs. UConn is in progress, so expect more reports from the front. This tournament is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in the NCAA. Someone please tell the fans!
Have you been following the Big East tournament?
Images via Jill with her brand-new camera