What it’s like witnessing the atmosphere of March Madness in person


Jonathan Miller

No. 6 seed Kentucky and No. 3 seed Kansas State prepare to tip-off their round of 32 matchup in Greensboro, N.C.

Jake Wilson, [email protected], Sports Writer

It’s that time of year again. Brackets are filled, work is missed and teachers fuss at their students for watching games on their phones. March Madness is an American tradition that brings all types of people together to enjoy Cinderella stories and pull for their alma maters. 

According to Investopedia, March Madness generated 1.14 billion dollars in revenue in 2022. Additionally, an average of 10.7 million viewers tuned in to the tournament last year.

This year, the madness did not hold back as a No. 13 seed, a No. 15 seed and a No. 16 seed all moved on to the second round as people watched in disbelief. Over 8 million viewers watched this year’s March Madness opening day, which is the highest number of viewers for an opening day since 2015. 

I sat on the couch wondering to myself, “Man, how cool would that be to watch this in person.” One of the tournament’s sites is in Greensboro, which is conveniently where my family lives. 

Immediately, I went onto Seat Geek and looked up ticket prices. 

Sunday, March 19. Session Three, Section 228 Row Q, $61.55. 

ARE YOU SERIOUS? Only $61 to watch not one but two March Madness games? I called up my friend Jonathan to see what he was doing on Sunday. Jonathan, a college basketball fanatic, was as enthusiastic as I was and without hesitation I bought two tickets. 

Greensboro hosted eight teams for the first and second rounds of the tournament. No. 11 seed Pittsburgh, No. 6 seed Iowa State, No. 3 seed Kansas State, No. 14 seeded Montana State, No. 3 seed Xaiver, No. 14 seed Kennesaw State, No. 11 seed Providence and No. 6 seed Kentucky. 

Sunday morning finally came as Jonathan and I packed our bags and prepared for our trip down I-40 East. The drive was easy and  full of talk about college basketball and the history behind it. Hot takes were made and stories were shared as the two and a half hour drive flew by.  

After a long debate about Northwestern guard Chase Audige, we finally made it to the Greensboro Coliseum. The parking lot was full of different school colors from Pittsburgh blue to Xaiver silver to Indiana Hoosier red. People gathered around cars, sang fight songs and cooked. Walking through the parking lot, I was met with the smell of cooking food and the sound of music being played. This felt like March and I was not even in the arena yet. 

We arrived at the arena two hours before the first tip-off at 12:10 p.m. This allowed us to get through security quickly as well as give us enough time to explore the complex and what it had to offer. 

The smell of food was everywhere. After about five minutes of walking through the complex, all I could think about was getting a quick bite to eat. I decided on the chicken tender basket but quickly regretted my decision after hearing the price of $19. 

After securing the chicken tender basket, we went to find our seats. Walking through the tunnel, I felt like a little kid as I looked in awe at the March Madness court. I have been looking at that court for years on my TV screen and to see it in person was a surreal feeling. We were pleasantly surprised with our seat’s view as it was very good for being so cheap. I chowed down on my food as I watched the empty seats around me start to fill up. 

A sea of blue and yellow invaded the stands as one by one, Pittsburgh fans walked up the aisle next to us. Pittsburgh entered Sunday’s game as an underdog who was fresh off of an upset win against No. 6 seed Iowa State. Xavier on the other hand, looked to bounce back after a subpar performance against No. 14 seed Kennesaw State. 

Right before tip-off, I gazed around to see how many spectators there were. To my surprise, it seemed a bit empty. Jonathan turned to me and said, “If some of these seats aren’t filled by halftime, we should move.” I agreed as the crowd erupted in applause to the start of the game. 

The game was a bit of a snooze fest. The ratio of Pitt fans versus Xaiver fans was exponential. The only problem was that Xaiver was dominating the Panthers all game. I occasionally would hear, “Man, we suck,” out of a Pitt fan as their team was unable to catch their stride at any point in the game. 

If I was watching this game on TV, I would probably have turned it off. Instead, I tried to make the best out of the situation since I was there in person. Jonathan and I would count how many fans came up and down the aisle. It started to become a little absurd as it seemed like more people were grabbing concessions than watching the game. 

After a failed comeback attempt by Pittsburgh, the Xaiver Musketeers secured the 84-73 victory in the first game of our session. That game kind of sucked but I know something that could get me in a better mood. 

Ice cream. 

 One thing I really admired about the venue was the diversity of concessions. There were multiple things to get from ice cream to gyros to Carolina barbeque. I headed over to the Ben and Jerry’s stand and I was delighted to see no line. I decided to go on a little walk through the stadium again to admire the atmosphere and eat my ice cream in a less crowded space. 

I got back to my seat and I immediately noticed a change. IT WAS PACKED. 

The second and final game of the session was between no. 3 seed Kansas State and no. 6 seed Kentucky. The crowd was an ocean of blue. Everywhere I looked, I saw a Kentucky fan. Even though we were in Greensboro, it seemed like we were in Lexington by how many Wildcat fans were there. 

The crowd roared as Kentucky ran out of the tunnel. Reigning National Player of the Year, Oscar Tshiebwe, received a huge applause as he started warming up. Seeing him in person was insane. Tshiebwe is known for his rebounding, and by looking at how long his arms were, I understood why. 

This game had the feel I was looking for. It had drama, dunks, lead changes, and best of all, it had madness. 

This by far was one of the most exciting sporting events I have ever been to. The game went back and forth until K-State finally pulled away, leaving Kentucky fans mourning as they walked away from their seats. 

Overall, I had a great experience in Greensboro and I couldn’t be happy enough to finally say I have been to March Madness. 

Luckily, the state of North Carolina will have a March Madness site for the next two years as Charlotte will host games in 2024, and Raleigh will host in 2025.