As a born and raised Southeastern Conference fan, covering the NCAA tournament at UD Arena is a whole new experience for a southern football fan like me. Besides, I was besieged by plagues of Irish and Buckeyes close to home.
Before Thursday’s madness behind March Madness — an open practice day for Temple, James Madison, Indiana, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Iona, Iowa State and North Carolina State — I had never seen so many Indiana Hoosiers in one place.
Their fans and players say they are excited to get the games started. Even though Indiana holds the No. 1 seed, players and fans alike are not going in with arrogance.
“There’s a reason all of these teams are here,” says an Indiana native and Dayton resident. “Each team has earned their spot.”
“I was so excited [for Indiana] because I’ve been a fan of them for a very long time,” says a young fan from Lawrenceburg, Ind. “It made me so happy that they’re doing so well this season.”
The Lawrenceburg residents say they feel confident about the game against 16-seed James Madison and the rest of the games “at least for a few rounds.”
“To be a No. 1 seed is a great honor, and we’re just going to cherish the moment, enjoy it, and go out there and have fun and play hard,” says senior Indiana player Jordan Hulls.
The Hoosiers are excited to be in Dayton and are prepared to take on the madness. Even though I’m far from Rocky Top and the Tide in my southern comfort zone, the Hoosiers’ good nature and enthusiasm radiated throughout the UD Arena, making fans from all over feel right at home.