Final Four Experience

By Abigail Padgett

I went to the Final Four…and my team lost. For anyone who doesn’t know what the Final Four is, it’s the last four teams that qualify for the championship round in the annual NCAA men’s or women’s -in this case men’s- college basketball tournament. A jam-packed season of basketball leads to one of the biggest and most anticipated sporting events of the year. 68 teams enter the tournament, one takes it all.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a die-hard Kansas fan. I’m from Lawrence, where the University of Kansas is located. The last time KU won the national championship was in 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. This year, on Kansas’ 10 year title anniversary, the final four is also set in San Antonio, so I felt destined to win this game. It seemed as though KU had a right to it. I was more than a little heartbroken when Villanova played basketball like I’ve never seen it, setting the final four record for 18 triples, and effectively shutting KU out of its chance at its next title.

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Sports aside, this weekend is f$%^&*@ insane. Anyone who has ever attended a Final Four tournament weekend knows just how little sleep it entails. You’re catching flights at ridiculous hours of the morning with connections in airports that are out of the way, meaning you’re doing more flying time than usual. And 65,000+ other people are doing the same thing, just for 40 -or 80 if you make it to the National Championship-minutes of basketball. Trying to get airplane tickets is brutally painful. Everyone is booking double the amount of flights and then canceling one ticket if their team wins the first game. For example, I flew down to San Antonio not knowing when I was going to get back. There were no seats available until I looked last night and someone had already canceled their flight. I booked my flight back into Cincinnati as I was walking back to my hotel from the Alamodome. Yeah, it’s hectic.

All that being said, it was an amazing experience (win or lose) that anyone should take should the occasion arise. Whether it be one a hometown team or even a family alma mater, it is so worth the travel stress and lack of sleep. You get to meet people from all over the country and engage in friendly banter. You can even watch James Harden and his posse take his courtside seats 20 minutes late.

The 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship takes place on Monday, April 2nd at 9:20 ET. Stream it on ESPN, watch it on TBS, or catch it uptown with some friends.