Posted on 13 March 2008.
“…bigger than the World Series, world cup, and World War II combined!” -From the movie ‘Dodgeball’…
The announcer in Dodgeball wasn’t talking about the ACC Tournament, but he might as well have been. To someone from unc, duke, wake, maryland, or nc state, the ACC Tournament is the biggest event of the year. It is clearly the biggest deal on the ACC calendar. Heck, it even draws about as much as the ACC Football Championship Game.
At this point in your Hokie life, you’ve probably been to Jacksonville one too many times (once is too many), the Peach Bowl, the Orange Bowl (the game and/or the stadium). Now you owe it to yourself to check out the Super Bowl of basketball tournaments.
The experience is unmatched. I went to the ACC Tournament in Washington, D.C. three years ago and was blown away by it. Sure, on the first day of action, there are a few empty seats, but it is amazing how full the arena is even though 33% of the teams aren’t even playing until the next day. Each of the 12 schools has an area, going from the upper level down to the lower level. It is pretty easy to figure out who is where. Proximity to mid-court rotates each year.
Even as teams lose, it surprised me how few people from that school sell their remaining tickets (I didn’t). They still come out each day. Now, there are exceptions. florida state’s section was pretty sparse after they lost, as was clemson’s. But most of the people that are going to it are “big deals”. Think of it this way; most of the arenas that house the tournament only seat 20,000. That means each school gets a maximum of 1,500 tickets. Not very many. So it is an honor to get to buy through your school (I figured out a scam to get my tickets through maryland, I’m not that big of a deal at VT).
The most exciting parts of game action are when duke or unc is in trouble.Â If the opponent makes a run against the heels or the devils, 11/12ths of the arena become fans of the opponent.Â It really is awesome.Â The rest of the time it is somewhat odd in that you have 20,000 people but only about 4,000 are passionately following the action.
One of the more humorous things is the buzzards. After a team loses, people from the winning/remaining schools will start to hover outside their sections, trying to buy up extras they don’t want for future days. And sure enough, the colors change a bit the next day in those sections. But as I said, this is the exception.
Another neat thing is the relationships you build. You are basically hanging out with the people in your surrounding area for 27 hours over four days. You become tight with them and find yourself rooting for similar teams when VT isn’t playing. All of a sudden you all become fans of .
The other amazing thing is how passionate the ACC fans are about this tournament. I felt pretty smug knowing VT had won the football championship three years ago. But ACC fans really don’t care about the football title. It is a secondary sport to many of them. This is the real deal, the show. It is what the ACC is all about. You have to check it out for yourself.