SALT LAKE CITY – It’s day one of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and the streets of Salt Lake City are feeling the madness. Even people whose team lost today say they’re happy they made the trip.
Fans from New Mexico, Washington, Kansas… they all crowded into Vivint Smart Home Arena for the action. Some Gonzaga fans say even though they’re facing the relatively unknown Fairleigh Dickinson, they felt a lot of pressure before the game.
“Gonzaga has fallen before in that kind of situation. Anything could happen, which is why they play these tournaments,” one says.
Several people tell KSL this is the first time they’ve ever come to Salt Lake for this kind of tournament. However, there were plenty of local basketball fans, also. One Utah man says he’s a rabid Syracuse fan, and he freaked out when he learned they were coming to town.
He says, “When I was watching the selection show on Sunday and they showed Syracuse would be in Salt Lake City, I literally almost passed out. I couldn’t believe it. I was overcome with emotion.”
Auburn fans had massive smiles on their faces after their team beat New Mexico. One fan, Rasheem Barrett, used to play basketball for Auburn between 2005 and 2009. He says post-season play is everything that athletes train for.
“It’s the atmosphere, man. You can’t prepare for it,” he says.
Barrett says watching his school win their game with his wife and his baby by his side was a wonderful experience.
“It brings in the fans that probably didn’t pay attention during the year are now supporting you. As a person who did play, it makes me proud to see my alma mater out there,” he adds.
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