College basketball mania peaks every year in late March and early April, as the NCAA tournament showcases the 64 best teams in arenas all across the country. This year we got some nearby action, with the "Sweet 16" portion of the tournament coming to Memphis. Big thanks to Carley's dad, who hooked up Rob with a pair of tickets to see the Sunday afternoon game between two of the top teams in the country, the North Carolina Tarheels (powder blue) and the Oklahoma Sooners (red).
The FedEx Forum (seen from our parking garage) is less than 10 years old, and it's modern design makes it a nice place to see a game. It's downtown location is only one block from Beale Street, which also works out rather nicely.
Rob made the 2-hour drive to Memphis with his good friend Paul. This was our second trip to Memphis in the past 24 hours, since we'd just rode up the night before for an awesome Umphrey's McGee show.
The southern approach into Memphis takes one through some interesting neighborhoods indeed!
Finally we arrived at Beale Street to a happy scene, with people from all over milling about and enjoying the spring afternoon.
A blues band (behind the statue) played in a small park on one side of the street. Cliche? Sure, why not?
Nearby, a little sidewalk-bar sold large tasty beers in plastic to-go cups.
Not many towns let you get away with that!
Once we got inside, we found our seats in the lower section and sort of behind the basket. These turned out to be great seats! Carley's dad had even better seats: about the same level, but in the Oklahoma fan section. (the sea of red in the photo)
The Villanova gorilla stuck around for this highly anticipated match-up, despite his own team's exit from the tournament two days earlier. He (or she?) was definitely rooting for Carolina.
The game was dominated by North Carolina, who have been one of the top teams in college basketball over the past 5 years, and who ended up winning this year's national championship. In the photo above, their superstar forward Tyler Hansbrough made a free throw.
He was matched up against Oklahoma's superstar forward, Blake Griffin, who you can see trying hopelessly to defend Hansbrough with the ball under the basket.
Though it was an awesome match-up, North Carolina was just too good - in fact, possibly one of the best college basketball teams ever - and went on to win by a score of 72-60.
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