During Spring break, I was able to dive at the opportunity to go to Nashville to see three different NCAA tournament games thanks to my buddies Colton and Reece Powell who live in the city.
The three games I witnessed were the first-round matches between Texas-Nevada, Xavier-Texas Southern and Florida State-Missouri. Each game brought a different type of atmosphere to the arena with the different levels of competition and results from the teams.
Xavier’s performance against Texas Southern was the typical one-seed v.s. 16-seed game with the Musketeers dominating in a 102-83 victory. The game was practically over by the end of the first-half and never got exciting, except for the highlight reel plays that came throughout.
The Florida State and Missouri game had a similar result as the Seminoles took a 67-54 win, not to mention a one-sided 42-20 first-half. This game was different to me, however, because it was an eight-seed nine-seed game, and I found it interesting to see Florida State come out to dominate a potentially close match with the Tigers.
I would have liked to see Missouri play better and win to keep adding onto a successful season by the SEC since the ACC typically has more of the bigger successful names in basketball, but the Seminoles easily kept this from happening.
Finally, the Texas and Nevada game was the experience you want to have when witnessing live basketball. The Longhorns controlled the match for most of the game, being up by as much as 14 points in the second-half. Nevada made an incredible surge, however, as the second-half went on and eventually tied the game at 68 a piece with four seconds left to send the game to overtime. The Wolf Pack started overtime trailing with some quick buckets from Texas, but pulled through to take over the lead midway through the five-minute period and came out on top 87-83.
The fan atmosphere in the arena was also unique. There were two separate first-deck sections for each school’s students and parents, which I could tell by the constant cheers and obvious support for the specific teams. I actually got to witness Florida State’s war chant live for the first time. I had always seen the fans do it on TV during football games, but never live, so I honestly did it myself because it felt right.
The rest of the arena, however, was mainly filled with random fans like me who just wanted to witness the tournament games. You don’t necessarily have a connection to any of the teams, but you feel so attached to a game when it’s down to the wire or an upset is about to happen, and that’s what March Madness is all about.
It was an awesome experience to say the least, even when watching the blowouts. What made witnessing these games even better was seeing Florida State upset Xavier in the next round, as well as Nevada coming back from an absurd 22-point deficit against two-seed Cincinnati in the second-round.
If you didn’t already figure it out, you never know what will happen in the NCAA tournament, and that’s why witnessing it live is something I would highly recommend to any sports fan.