Duke's mascot, the Blue Devil, wants to know, 'Who's Murray State?'
Leaving the team hotel, the air was thick with anticipation and tension. As the Murray State women's basketball team loaded the bus to head to its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Racer Band and cheerleaders sent them off with music and pom-poms.
The daughter of MSU athletic director Alan Ward added some excitement when she ran shrieking back to her room in terror at the sight of MSU equine mascot, Dunker. She's afraid of all mascots, Ward said. That's why the family sits at the top of the stands at all games — to be as far from the cheering bunches of fake fur as they can.
Traveling, the bus TVs were off, no radios and riders were quiet and focused.
The Duke Blue Devils were waiting at the Comcast Center for the 6 p.m. (CDT) game, and the Racers were in game mode.
The team met a mostly empty arena, since it was cleared for the second round of Sunday's games. The team quickly headed to the floor to stretch and warm up and the bands quickly took up their posts.
As the officials let the fans in for the game, it was easy to see Duke brought the most fans. But the 30 or so Racer fans already in attendance were bolstered by a sea of red. Maryland fans, who watched their team to victory over Coppin State just an hour before, stayed to cheer on Racers. No Dookies for the Terps, who are Atlantic Coast Conference rivals.
Methinks the Terp fans could make or break the game....
Check back for updates through the game as I have time. The NCAA mandates no more than five updates a game for bloggers, just to let you know.