This isn’t just the men’s basketball team’s first visit to the NCAA Tournament in seven years. It’s also this student body’s first chance to experience the frenzy that is the big dance.
Diehard fans will have already had multiple brackets filled, while new fans have begun blooming like cherry blossoms – all with the same hope that the Colonials still have a few more wins left in them.
About 150 students will make the four-hour bus trip from D.C. to Raleigh, N.C. on Friday. Alumni, donors and administrators bought the other 400 tickets GW is allotted by the NCAA.
Students, like senior Spencer Fogel, had the opportunity to reserve and purchase the discount tickets with the hopes of punctuating their four years at GW.
“This is also really special because I’m a senior and the trip will be a special moment in my college experience,” Fogel said. “People who I work with at my on-campus job are talking about brackets for the first time which is pretty funny. I think it shows a growing interest among students in the NCAA tournament.”
“GW has played some big games in the Verizon Center like when they beat Maryland, but the energy in PNC Arena is going to be off the charts,” Fogel added.
For alumni, who remember the golden years of the 1990s and experienced the rejuvenation back in the mid-2000s, the territory is familiar. Still, a trip to the NCAA Tournament didn’t seem feasible after years of underachieving seasons.
Andrew Wiseman, a 2002 alumnus and creator of the Colonial Hoops blog, called this season a “fantastic surprise.”
“I figured the team would do pretty well with some ups and downs, but those first few 20-point wins to start the season, then beating Creighton, made me think that maybe we’ve got something here,” Wiseman said.
For fans that can’t make the trip down to North Carolina, the Colonials matchup with No. 8-seeded Memphis at 6:55 on Friday will be televised on TBS.
As head coach Mike Lonergan has said to his squad all week, it’s never a lock that a team will make it back to the big dance.
“It’s great for the team, for alumni and for the school in general, getting GW out there to a bigger audience. The buzz has been fantastic – even before the team had those big wins, there were already nice stories about Maurice Creek’s comeback,” Wiseman said. “Hearing GW mentioned constantly on TV in the days before the tournament, even picked to be a dark horse or Cinderella, is amazing.”