This entry is cross-posted at the TNR blog, Posting Up:
If you really want to 'go the extra mile' to prepare your brackets, and live near a town hosting a First Round Thursday site like Winston-Salem or Lexington, today's the day to watch the 'shoot-arounds' that the NCAA coordinates for each team that is going to play tomorrow.
The shoot-around, a light workout that is open to the public, is designed to familiarize teams with the facility, the dressing areas, and the shooting background. (Most teams will have a regular workout elsewhere that is closed to press and public.)
For players going to the tournament for the first time, especially those from small or mid-major conferences, the shoot-around will also be the first glimpse of the media hype that will surround all the games--A/V cables and klieg lights will be everywhere, and the seating section for the print media alone can be larger than many high school gyms. Security won't let anyone near the floor without the proper 'pin' or credentials.
In 1991, Princeton played a First Round game against Villanova at the cavernous Carrier Dome in Syracuse. While our home gym was dome-shaped, its maximum capacity is about 8,500 (with temporary bleachers); the Carrier Dome can hold more than 33,000 for basketball, and close to 50,000 for football. (In the preceding two years, we had played NCAA games in two facilities that at the time seated about 14,000 each--the Providence Civic Center (now the Dunkin' Donuts Center) and the Erwin Center in Austin, Texas).
Unfortunately, 'Nova beat us the next night, 50-48, on a basket with 0.7 seconds left.