The NCAA Finals was fun, and either way, I’m a winner

Our seatsI was in two NCAA pools this year, one with my father and about a dozen of his friends and relatives, and one with my friend Bruce, who have been “betting” on the tourney since we lived across the hall from each other in Quadrangle Hall at the University of Iowa in 1984. In both pools, I had MSU, UConn, UNC, and Pitt in the finals, and I had MSU and UNC in the final game. In the pool with my dad, I picked UNC; in the pool with Bruce, I picked MSU. I don’t remember the reason for these different choices, but it turns out I won both pools.

So I got that going for me.

More important though, Will and I got to go see the final game last night. My parents bought tickets for the tourney through the lottery system, they went to the games Saturday night, and gave me and Will the tickets for Monday night. Here’s is a link to my Flickr set of pictures from the game; here are a few highlights:

  • Of course, we got lost getting into town. I always do going to Detroit. But we did navigate to a parking deck right next to Ford Field for the privilege of paying $40 for a parking spot. As I will get to in a moment, that was worth every cent.
  • Will and I walked around a bit and did a little souvenir shopping, but we decided to pass on going over to Cobo center. I think that the cold and the snow kind of dissuaded us. Had we come into town a little earlier, it might have been different. And had Will been 21, it would have been much different: the main activity before the game seemed to be drinking at one of the many bars and tents connected to bars, and that might have been a fun way to pass the afternoon before the game.
  • I would say MSU fans outnumbered UNC fans about 15 to 1. Lots of Sparty-wear on the streets and in the arena. I wore my Eastern Michigan hoodie sweatshirt because while not a direct alliance to MSU, it is green and white. So it represented my “on the fence but leaning” take on the game.
  • Ford Field is a very nice facility, and the next time that EMU plays football there (which has happened about once a year for the last couple years), I’m going. Heck, I might even go see the Lions next year. In one sense, our tickets were terrible: about halfway up the last section in an end zone end of the arena, which meant the court was literally about a quarter of a mile away. But this wasn’t as bad as you might think. I still feel like we got a pretty decent view of the game, and with the big-screen TVs at the top of the stadium, it wasn’t that different from watching it on TV.
  • Everyone I dealt with was extremely polite and well-behaved. That includes the fans, the people taking tickets, the security folks, the hot dog lady, the dude who gave me foolproof directions out of town, everyone. It was almost as if Detroiters and Michiganders had some kind of collective mission to put a warm and happy face on a scruffy and run-down town and state.
  • At half-time, UNC had managed to score the most points in a half in NCAA playoff history and they were ahead of a lackluster MSU team by 20 points. And it was 10:15 pm. Will said “let’s go,” and I didn’t disagree. While plenty of other people left early, my very close (albeit over-priced) parking space meant that we were out of the stadium and on I-75 and then I-94 back to Ypsi in a matter of minutes. In fact, we got home early enough for me to watch the last seven minutes of the game on TV (and Will and I clearly didn’t miss much), and also to see a local news report on the massive traffic jam after the game ended. We would have been there until one in the morning had we stayed.

So an excellent time all in all and a huge thank you to my parents for the tickets!

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