This weekend’s NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional was another chance for Indianapolis to show why it’s the best sports city in the country, as thousands of out-of-staters and locals converged in and around Lucas Oil Stadium.
The influx created a festive, three-day melting pot, and the on-court action was as good as anyone could’ve asked for.
Before Friday’s opening tip-off, I met a Michigan couple enjoying beers at Tavern on South. Ironically, on the 30th anniversary of the Colts leaving Baltimore, they said they once lived in that still-bitter city, and that when they moved to Ann Arbor, they used Mayflower because no resident there does, thus making it the cheapest around.
During Michigan’s game with Tennessee, I set out to locate the worst seat in the house. I found it in Section 541, where two Vols supporters said they paid $50 for the tickets, which featured a much better view of a massive black curtain than the distant floor. It reminded me of the 2010 Indy Final Four with Butler, where neither the cost nor the 5-iron distance from my seat to the court mattered.
Sometimes you just have to be in the building.
After Michigan and Tennessee went down to the wire, the house lit up when Louisville and Kentucky hit the hardwood. With an in-house vibe unlike anything seen in Indy in some time, UK topped its bitter rival, in a contest that went incident-free in the stands. That was a testament to the ban on booze at tourney events. Would’ve been a different story, otherwise.
Kentucky fans outnumbered Michigan’s on Sunday, as many were on the streets after their win over Louisville (well after midnight), scooping up extras for friends and family. The UK program might be an absurd exploitation of the NBA’s 1-year-rule for draft entries, but its supporters are the best in the sport.