First of all, the new "pod" system has greatly increased attendance at these games because most teams are within a reasonable proximity of their opening round location (save Washington's case this year). I had never been to Charlotte and I must say, it was a very impressive looking city. It had a lot of modern looking buildings and the main strip was much "cleaner" looking than most cities. Basically...if Michael Bay took San Francisco and renovated it, then shrunk it, and moved it away from the ocean, it would yield a close match to Charlotte. Very nice city.
Another unique thing about the event (and I imagine the College World Series is similar) is that you have multiple (more than two) fan bases converging on the same city. We saw UGA, Duke, Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, Washington, and even some Long Island fans while we were there. So that aspect was very cool.
Once we got parked and finally found our tickets (from a Stubhub desk at the local Marriott) we went to this "plaza-like" outdoor area called the "Epicenter", which was located right beside the arena. There were many restaurants there along with a cash-only bar in the middle of it all. Sweeeeet.
We entered the game at half-time of the Carolina-Long Island game. That's when I came up with a brilliant idea: scavenge good seats from the Carolina fans' ticket stubs once they leave after their game (they didn't have to leave but I assumed they wouldn't stick around for our 10:00 game). And for the most part I was right. There were probably about 1,000 Dawg fans in the arena which was about was I expected. The rest was about 85% Carolina blue, who mostly left after their game (I would say about half of them), and the result was Van Dawgin and me sitting two rows behind press row (you can see us on TV a lot). It was the closest I had ever sat for a game and that alone was worth the trip (Personally, I think that they were very lenient on the seat situation because it looks bad on TV for there to be empty seats -- just a theory).
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Anyway, sitting that close, you could easily tell that Washington had superior players. We just couldn't handle their defensive pressure in the second half and they really hit their jumpers as well. Trey obviously had a career game which was good for him, and Leslie's fast-break dunk brought the house down (what people were still there). I'm glad the game was at least close because I was worried we might be a little "deer in the headlights". The last second missed three by Leslie was not even that painful (I think this is because I have become numb to the close losses).
Overall, I do not regret making the trip at all. Being part of something that contained Duke fans, Carolina fans, Jim Nantz/Clark Kellogg/Tracy Wolfson/national TV, and an NBA arena felt very special for a UGA basketball fan (because you know....that doesn't happen very often). Getting a taste of the Big Dance makes me very excited about the future of UGA hoops and I completely recommend going to the opening round game if we ever get back...let's hope it happens again next year.