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The Suburbanite
  • Zips super fan gets taste of Madness

  • I celebrated by 21st birthday the day the University of Akron Zips helped to open the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

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  • This time of year, 10 years ago, I was sitting in my fifth-grade classroom steaming. The class next-door was holding an NCAA tournament party. I could overhear their shouts and encouragement for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
    Meanwhile, I was stuck.
    My teacher decided that basketball was not important and that our time was going to be better spent going over science lessons or vocabulary. This disappointed most of my class, but it sent me into a decade of detest towards her verdict.
    Ten years later, it’s a different story.
    I celebrated by 21st birthday the day the University of Akron Zips helped to open the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
    I had vowed to go to that first-round tournament game on March 21 — my birthday. I had always wanted to go to an NCAA tournament game, and there was no way that I was going to be missing out this time around.
    Everything was working out swell. Thursday and Friday were the final two days before spring break, and right or wrong my professors were canceling their classes — unlike my fifth-grade teacher. That meant, I could go to the game — guilt-free.
    The drive to the game wasn’t bad, and we made good time so, this allowed us time to meet at the “official” pregame spot for Akron supporters, the Moose Lounge.
    We expected the place to be a sports bar. And while they did have two bars and basketball games on the televisions, it was a unique experience. Moose heads were hung around the restaurant, the demographic of the customers looked to be overwhelmingly older than us.
    We shrugged it off and had some dinner. I ordered a turkey reuben.
    By 6 o’clock, we had eaten and were on our way to watch the first game of the session. It pitted The University of Michigan and South Dakota State.
    Michigan was the heavy favorite and with the game being played in Michigan the entire arena was filled with Maize and Blue. As we found our seats, we passed hundreds of Michigan fans.
    The atmosphere of the building was not nearly as intense as I imagined. Perhaps,  a lot of the UM fans figured the Wolverines would roll over the Jackrabbits.
    There were a lot of Zip fans that came to watch the first game and many others showed up after the Michigan game. I was impressed by the turn out for UA.
    Prior to the game, there had been rumors that a couple Akron players were sick with the flu. They even went as far to say that they would not play. One of those players was Brian Walsh, a senior shooting guard that the team relied on throughout their season.
    Page 2 of 2 - When the team took the floor, however, Walsh was leading the charge. This sent a feeling of immense pride through almost every Akron fan in attendance.
    But it didn’t last long.
    The game itself was not good.
    Akron scored first, but was soon blown out of the building. I remember looking up at the scoreboard that read 70-32 and realizing what was actually happening. It was sort of embarrassing, to be honest.
    When the Michigan fans decided to call it a night, the arena became empty and chilly.
    It was a miserable realization.
    The Zips lost 88-42. We students went from standing and cheering to sulking: It was a tough pill to sallow. You cheer for a basketball team for almost five months, and just like that: It’s over.
    The experience, though, is one I am happy  to have had. I can now say that I have been to a couple of NCAA tournament games, even if the entire night was filled with disappointment.
    Well, except for the reuben. The reuben was very good.

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