March Madness is upon us and I’ll start this blog off by showing my bracket. Come on now, no making fun. I’ve picked an upset or two correctly, but I’ve missed A LOT too. But at least I don’t cheat and fill out 5 brackets and then claim I picked every upset. The point I’m trying to make though is that the Aztecs occupy the center spot as National Champions. When filling out your bracket that is all you need to know, the rest is irrelevant.
The Show had a pretty good contingent that would meet up in Tucson for the game against Northern Colorado. WALDshOw and I left San Diego at 5AM on Thursday morning and parked our car at the McKale Center before 11Am. I’m told we made pretty good time.
After grabbing some food, we headed into the arena and took our seats for the second half of the Temple/Penn State game. I can’t go any further without commenting on how terrible the Penn State mascot is. As one friend put it, “their mascot looks as old as Joe Paterno.” Well it is in fact older by 5 years. I am alone in thinking that the Aztecs have one of the best mascots in college sports? The best part is that it’s not a guy dressed up in some absurd fluffy costume. I mean take a look at the Northern Colorado mascot. It looks like a 30 year old teddy bear. Then you’ve got the Kansas State mascot which is just a guy with a giant wildcat head.
WALDshOw and I had some pretty amazing tickets in the third row, but at game time we decided it would be more fun to sit with the rest of The Show. The game started out just fine for The Show, but after only a few minutes the blue hairs in our section (backed by arena security) stifled our enthusiasm by making us sit down. I will never understand people that do not want to stand at a basketball game. If you want to sit and eat peanuts, I think that is done better from the comfort of your couch at home.
Sports Illustrated picked the Aztecs to reach the Final 4, and the commentary regarding the SDSU/UNC matchup went something like this: “The only question in this game is how the famously creative SDSU student section will distract the Bears.” Well the bears did miss their first 4 free throws, thanks in part to the famous large heads.
For me the highlights of the game were Billy White’s continued stellar play and the very low number of turnovers. As I said in the last Road Show blog, when Billy White is playing up to his potential the Aztecs simply cannot lose. Heading into this game some fans had some feelings of trepidation, facing the same school that stunned the Aztecs at Cox Arena in a game 3 years ago, but there was no way that would happen again. This season is about vindication, and the Aztecs will not let us down.
After the game we headed outside and decided to meet at a local bar known as Dirtbag’s. There were several other Aztec fans there and we did our usual singing and chanting once or twice, to the ire of the fans of U of A and Wisconsin. Some Wisconsin fans decided to get into it with us, suggesting that the Aztecs play in an inferior conference. This fan asked, “what conference do you play in? The WAC?” To which Showdora responded, “nice job in the Rose Bowl.” Referencing the Aztecs’ conference mate’s victory over the Badgers. ZIIIIIIIIIIIING!!!
After enjoying some basketball games on TV at the bar we headed over to the Westin, where the basketball team, pep band and cheer/dance squads were staying. The accommodations were amazing, and it is clear that the higher seeds receive preferential treatment with regard to hotel arrangements. There were something like 12 pools, and one could probably get lost for a day trying to get through them all. We found our friend, Ripley’s Show It Or Not (aka iamtrumpetshow) and proceeded to have a good time. Eventually we met up with our friends Beau (GeckShow) and the Aztec Warrior. We even briefly said hello/hung out with the team.
On the off day a couple of us headed up to Mesa to watch the Cubs’ spring training game. The two teams combined for 27 runs on 40 hits. The place was packed as it was the 4th largest crowd in Hohokam Stadium history. Go Cubs!
Then Saturday arrived. The Aztecs got past the first round game without much difficulty, and now would be facing a team that had been in and out of the top 25 all season. It could be argued that, other than BYU, Temple is the best team the Aztecs have faced this season. We got back to Tucson a couple hours before the game and parked. We then hitched a ride on the bus with the band and cheer. Yeah, we’re kind of a big deal.
For this game The Show was standing from the start and we were never asked to sit down. Event security was even accommodating. For this game most of our section stood the whole time, and we were able to bring a lot more energy to the game. Near the end of the game everyone around me seemed to be nervous. People were pacing back and forth and had their hands in prayer formation. I for one was completely calm; I’ve seen enough of our games to know that we always win. The greatest plays were Malcolm’s blocked shot and Kawhi’s steal and dunk to put the game away.
Near the end of the game all of the U of A fans in our area started rooting for Temple. I guess they were upset that we stood the whole time and obstructed their view of the game. No one likes us, we don’t care!
Here’s a short video from after the victory, I didn’t get any better footage, I was too busy celebrating.
After the game everyone wanted to relax and watch the Kansas State and Wisconsin game. We were watching a great competitive game, but none of us could get into it until the last moments, because we were all pretty much in a coma after our thriller of a game. Eventually we went out to enjoy some victory pizza at a place called 1702. I do not recommend it, they had some of the slowest most inattentive service ever. The portions were ridiculous though, a single slice was the size of an entire pizza.
Our friend Shane, not expecting the huge portions, got a Greek salad and a calzone. After eating most of the gargantuan meal, the server asked if we wanted some desert, to which Shane responded “I’ve always got room for desert.” The man is crazy. While eating we watched the end of the UConn game and then highlights from the day. We cheered when the Aztecs appeared on TV and turned our heads and booed when they showed “he who must not be named.”
All in all Tucson was an unforgettable awesome time, and we wait with great anticipation for the huge game(s) in Anaheim this weekend. Until next time…