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Day at a Glance
Waiting for the Madness
Posted: Thursday March 29, 2001 8:34 PM
By Albert Lin, CNNSI.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Memo to self (and anyone else planning a Final Four trip in the near future): Don't arrive before Thursday. There's simply nothing to do yet, nothing going on.
Two days before the national semifinals, you would hardly know that something special is at hand. Oh, there are a few banners fastened on lamp posts and stretched between buildings. There are volunteers to greet you at the airport and offer whatever advice, help they can. Several business have WELCOME FINAL FOUR signs in their windows. All those guys in sweatsuits must be here for some reason, right?
But, by and large, that's it. The NCAA Hoop City interactive exhibit doesn't open until Friday. The Star Tribune's NCAA Tournament Fan's Guide is inserted in Friday's edition. Heck, only two of the four participants showed up Wednesday -- Michigan State and Maryland, which arrived late in the evening. The Arizona and Duke squads didn't fly in until Thursday. So why should the rest of us get here any sooner?
The overcast, drizzly day didn't make for a festive atmosphere. The last time the Final Four was held here, in 1992, the city was abuzz with life. We expect that energy to kick in shortly, but Thursday felt like any other workday.
At the cavernous Metrodome, CBS crews continued to set up their equipment for the weekend's broadcast. Skycam, the overhead camera that moves on wires, was given several test drives. Workers carefully positioned cameras for EyeVision, the system used at the Super Bowl to provide those Matrix-like, rotating views.
On the streets and sidewalks, though, natives went about their business, seemingly blissful, unaware that Madness is about to descend on them.
| Favorite son|
|Arizona coach Lute Olson grew up in North Dakota, but his career started in Minneapolis, where he was a three-sport star for tiny Augsburg College. If any team has the crowd on its side, it could be the Wildcats.|
| Familiar territory|
|The last time Duke won the title, in 1992, it traveled through Greensboro, N.C., and Philadelphia before taking it all in Minneapolis. We bet Blue Devils fans are feeling pretty good right now.|
| On the other hand ...|
|That 1992 Duke team was the first school to win back-to-back championships since the 1972-73 UCLA Bruins. Michigan State would love to give Minneapolis a reputation as the city of repeats.|
| Richard and Cindy Blake: Because of Richard's fear of flying, the parents of Maryland point guard Steve drove to Minneapolis -- some 1,800 miles -- from their home in Miami Lakes, Fla. The Blakes had not been able to make it to the Terps' two previous locales, in Boise, Idaho, and Anaheim, Calif. But nothing would stop them from coming to the Final Four.|
| Minneapolis: The Final Four's host city grew 3.9 percent over the last 10 years, to 382,618 residents, according to Census 2000 numbers released Wednesday. It's the first time since the 1940s that the city has not lost population.|
Charlie Spoonhour: What in heaven's name are you thinking?|
| The Metrodome court: The areas inside the 3-point line have been painted to resemble a basketball. Not the most attractive thing.|
|A zealous booster adorned at least two area billboards with FOUR BOBBI above the University of Arizona's A logo -- a reference, of course, to coach Lute Olson's wife, who died Jan. 1 of ovarian cancer.|
|If Tennessee isn't able to work out a deal to lure Buzz Peterson from Tulsa (and there are conflicting reports about whether a buyout is necessary), the Vols could push hard for Charlotte's Bobby Lutz.|
| Michigan State coach Tom Izzo|
|"There's something about getting to the Final Four, I think, that validates you a little bit. Whether that's fair or unfair -- and, in fact, I think it's unfair -- but I think it does do that."|
Check back for a new Day at a Glance every day during the Final Four.