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The NCAA Melting Pot

The+official+Hotel+for+the+Michigan+Basketball+team.+The+Alumni+tour+group+stayed+here+and+had+special+access+to+events+like+pep-rallies+and+signatures+from+the+team.+
The official Hotel for the Michigan Basketball team. The Alumni tour group stayed here and had special access to events like pep-rallies and signatures from the team.

The official Hotel for the Michigan Basketball team. The Alumni tour group stayed here and had special access to events like pep-rallies and signatures from the team.

The official Hotel for the Michigan Basketball team. The Alumni tour group stayed here and had special access to events like pep-rallies and signatures from the team.

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The Riverwalk in Downtown San Antonio, was extra busy for Final Four weekend.

Day 1: The flight out of Detroit lifted off at 11:00AM. The flight full with University of Michigan alumni was traveling to San Antonio, Texas to watch the Michigan Men’s Basketball team compete in the Final Four. The team making its first Final Four appearance since 2013 when it played for the National Championship.

When we landed, there was three charter buses from the University of Michigan Alumni Association waiting for us. The buses took us directly to the Hotel. Non-Coincidentally, it is also the official hotel hosting U of M’s Basketball team.

We checked in and hit the pool for the evening. Then my  parents and I went down to the Riverwalk; an area along the river where there were lots of restaurants and bars for the nightlife of the city.

 

Day 2: Today was game day, as you probably guessed our hotel was busy. The lobby was packed with fans, press, alumni, and families. Even the bar was full of day drinkers at 9:30 AM. The hotel restaurant was overwhelmed and under-staffed. We decided it was a good day for the Fan Fest (right). We went across the street and visited the Powerade Dunk Cam and the Pizza Hut Highlight Heights. We dunked, we played knockout, had Lunch and tried out new sports products like Fairlife protein shakes. When we were done, after 3 hours, we went to the hotel pool and met up with friends.

We cheered off the team when they exited the hotel to their bus after waiting there for 1 hour to get a good spot (right). When we were walking to the First game of the Final Four. I noticed that there were not a lot of families that traveled to support their team. The only teams with lots of families were Michigan and Loyola-Chicago. There were a lot of connections between the fan bases of the two colleges, despite the size (Michigan’s was a lot larger), very racially diverse, extremely academic, and mostly upper middle class.

On the other hand, there was a lot more sun-burnt Kansas fans than the total of Michigan fans. Kansas always travels well in the sense that their team is always competing for the championship. Lots of middle class, white couples from the countryside. On the whole other side of the cultural spectrum, Villanova was upper class, only white (did not see a non-caucasian face), and lots of college kids and old wealthy Alumni.

 

Day 3: When the morning came Kansas fans did not have a lot to say. Lots of Kansas fans were selling their tickets with heartbroken faces for pennies on the dollar. Loyola fans were still enjoying life and happy to be in this place with an 11 seeded team despite the loss.

Michigan fans were anxious, nervous and excited. At least me and my dad were. Lots of us had our “it’s a great day to be a Michigan Wolverine” face on over our “oh… we’re playing Nova?” look. But, there was still stuff at the fanfest that we hadn’t gone to yet. So we visited the convention center one last time to get our anxiety about the big game tomorrow. We competed in the Powerade Combine, a football wide receiver contest, and a drawing for Pizza Huts ‘Pie Tops’ sneakers that order pizza. Like the previous day we got lunch then went to the pool.

That night we had a nice dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant on the riverwalk (right). I had an odd apple soda that the waiter recommended and queso tacos.

Day 4: The nerves were up at the lobby again. I had breakfast with my family and then we took a boat ride through the riverwalk. We saw a building that looked as if it was two dimensional (right), an old dormitory that is now a hotel and used to be for a boys boarding school called St. Mary’s that moved out to become a University. We then visited the Alamo and heard an amazing story about how it battled out to become an American history lesson everywhere.

I could not stop thinking about how happy I would be to have a National Championship shirt from the M Den. But as you probably know the fans were not the only ones with nerves. The team started off strong and then Villanova decided to put in a player by the name of Donte DiVincenzo. He would end up scoring 31 points to win the national championship and the MVP of the game.

But the trip was not over! We still had to walk back to the hotel and listen to all the Villanova fans.

Day 5: Today was a slow day. We got up ate breakfast and watched ESPN with the rest of the U of M Alumni at the Alumni breakfast. We left for the airport at 9AM and said goodbye to the great city of San Antonio. But don’t worry San Antonio: I’ll be back soon.

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