WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Brackets will be busted, Cinderella teams will dance and enthusiasm will reach a fever pitch in Westchester County as basketball fans gear up for a run to the Final Four when the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament kicks off Tuesday night.
The opening round of this year’s tournament will begin at 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday, as the University of Albany faces Mount St. Mary’s in Dayton, for the right to meet top seeded Florida. North Carolina State will then square off against Xavier at 9:10 p.m., with both teams looking to lock down a 12 seed.
The “First Four” will conclude on Wednesday, with California Polytechnic State facing Texas Southern University and Iowa University playing Tennessee for an 11 seed and matchup against the University of Massachusetts.
Crystal Parrish, a White Plains resident and University of Albany alum, had trouble containing her excitement when talking about her school’s play-in game.
“I like that we get to play in the first round, it means we might actually get to see a win before we get steamrolled by Florida,” she reasoned. “I got some looks at work for wearing (the team’s colors of) purple and gold, but the Danes need to be represented."
While some will root for their alma mater to advance through the tournament, others will have a vested interest in the competition after filling out a bracket and predicting each game’s winner.
Iona College student Mike Fisher said he would be glued to the screen, hoping his favorite team, North Carolina, goes all the way.
“There are very few sporting events each year that can captivate people quite like (the NCAA tournament). I think it’s because any team can lose at any time and then that’s just it, season over,” he said. “At any given time, there is probably at least one good game on, you just can’t beat that.”
Mike West, who works part time at New Rochelle bars, said that he doesn’t expect his workplace to be too busy during the “First Four,” but as the tournament winds down and inches closer to the “Final Four,” he expects things to ramp up.
“No one pays too much attention to the first few games, but when there is a full slate of games, we’ll have people coming in at all points in the day,” he said. “Most people fill out brackets now or are in competitions of their own, so there’s always something on the line.”