And on the sixth day, the basketball gods said, “let there be more upsets.”
And so there was.
Day 6 was the most uneventful day of my trip, from a travel and mishap standpoint. I caught that aforementioned 5 am flight from Raleigh to Charlotte, then hopped a flight from Charlotte to Minnesota.
I had never been to Minnesota, so I was excited to explore uncharted territory. But the lack of sleep brought on by the Duke-UNC excitement stymied my adventurous spirit and instead of exploring, I found myself facedown on my hotel bed.
I did manage to make a quick trip to the Mall of America at the behest of the lovely Hilton concierge. It was a mall. I prefer South Coast Plaza.
After my epic nap, I headed to Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota’s campus for Game 6 of my college hoops road trip: No. 6 Maryland vs. Minnesota. I passed up Kentucky-Tennessee for this game because my gut told me something special might happen for the Gophers that night. After all, they were due.
Williams Arena is a very cool venue – passionate fans, raised floor, solid student section. And to my delight, it was #ThrowbackThursday night which meant lost of 90’s music played by an in-house DJ.
The scoreboard also got a makeunder, a tribute to the way things were before high-def.
And the students sported some pretty far out hats created especially for the occasion. The fine people in the athletic department at Minnesota were kind enough to send me home with one, which I will wear proudly around the Bay Area.
The matchup itself should have been lopsided. Maryland is a fast, dominating, NBA-style team while Minnesota is like the little engine that could, but usually doesn’t. The Gophers had yet to win a conference game, but had come close so many times that head coach Richard Pitino said he had to stop going into Starbucks and use the drive-through instead.
But Minnesota came out swinging and knocked the Terps on their asses in the first half. But their age started to show as they slowly but steadily blew a 10-point lead, letting Maryland back in at the end. The game came down to a key rebound, some clutch free throws and sheer force of will. For a full recap and analysis, go to SportsFanJournal.com for my story.
The best part of the Gophers win: the court storming that took place after the final horn. The subject of court-storming is a hot one, with people weighing in heavily both for and against it. I am very much in favor of the act when it is deserved and I believe the argument “act like you’ve been there” should only be made by people who have actually been there.
I was able to have drinks with the awesome TV guys after the game and enjoyed breaking down Minnesota’s win as well as the college basketball field in general with their collective basketball wisdom and experience. I am fairly confident I faked my way through it well enough.
It was a fantastic game, the second one I was able to see in two nights and as Kevin Gemmell pointed out, it appears that I jinx more than kickers.
I flew out to Chicago the next morning, where I am currently hanging out with my guy Jerry Palm until the Oakland vs. Valparaiso game tonight.
Should be another fun one..I’ll try to keep the jinxing to a minimum.
See you on the other side.