Sorry for the delay in getting dispatches out from the Big Ten Tournament. I’m not gonna lie though, Friday night was a blast. And not just because we beat Wisconsin for a third straight time this season, although that certainly played a role.
I’ve said this before, but I’m really impressed with downtown Indy. Between having Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium easy walking distance from one to the other and a host of patio dining options in between, the city is well suited to handle the next few weeks. There have been travel busses everywhere. With the B1G Men’s and Women’s Tournaments in town and others rolling in every day, you stand a very good chance of seeing a rival.
Speaking of rivals, we made it over in time to see Illinois finish off Rutgers. I hate to say it, but they are playing really well right now. And I knew they would present a stern test for the Hawkeyes, provided Iowa could handle business against the Badgers. I had the privilege of sitting way down close to the court and next to Frank Garza, two-time B1G Player of the Year Luka Garza’s dad. If you ever have the chance to sit next to a player’s parent, do it, as it is endlessly entertaining.
You can actually get a little taste of it yourself, as BTN had a mic on him for part of the game:
"How many timeouts do we have left, Elvis?"— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) March 13, 2021
We put a mic on @FrankGarza57 during Friday night's @IowaHoops win, and he was a proud papa throughout.
Glad to see a @HawkeyeElvis cameo, too. pic.twitter.com/poyZlByQHn
After the 40-minute fist-fight that was the game, it was great to see the looks on the players faces as they came off the floor and were able to see the fans in the stands. After playing a whole season with few or no people in the stands, these guys needed this.
And while it was great to have my Hawkeyes advance to the semi-finals, it was nearly midnight local time before we got out of the building. Even later for the players. Needless to say I was a bit fatigued the next day and I didn’t have to play 40 minutes. Up next, a rematch with the Illini.
On Saturday, I’m not sure if it was the fact that more people were in the building or that the semis were on CBS, but there was a different feel. It had a big-time feel to it. And frankly, the afternoon certainly could have been a Final Four preview.
We got in at halftime of the first game and with the unique set-up, that meant the TV play-by-play was in the stands on a big platform. Which was great because I got to get a picture with Bill Raftery. Or as I like to call him….THE BIG FELLA!
I didn’t have a preference, but I was endless entertained by watching Michigan Wolverines fall behind big in the second half and then watch Ohio State try the Northwestern-patented “Let’s Stop Scoring And See If We Can Still Win” strategy.
Unlike Fearless Leader’s Wildcats, the Buckeyes were able to advance.
My Hawkeyes had a frustrating Saturday between the officials randomly deciding when to enforce the rules of the game and the fact the Illinois is really freaking good. For me, it was nothing that a few drinks at my building’s bar couldn’t help soothe.
So while I’m a bit disappointed to not be playing today, I do get to watch brackets revealed and knowing that we all get to watch a shit-load of basketball this week.
Big Life. Big Stage. Big Ten.