One day, four games, three bars ... it's more than a normal person can handle, but I've proven myself to be exceptionally good at maxing out on sports. Thus I give you ... Friday at the Big Ten Tournament.
10:30 AM: Parking for $5.50. Not bad. One block closer, it's the same kind of lot and $20. You figure it out. We walk toward Conseco, trying to find a decent place for breakfast, lunch, or some other meal that can be served a) now or b) shortly after now.
Buffalo Wings & Rings is the choice, the Northwestern bar. (This means it's empty; apparently Northwestern does not travel well.) It's open at 10:45, which is pretty cool considering that it really opens at 10. They couldn't take food orders yet, but who cares? Soft drinks and seats.
They have nine sauce types and five levels of heat. Based on a tip from one of the bartenders, I go with Extra Hot instead of Hot with the Cajun sauce. An excellent blend, still milder than a hot BWW sauce ... 5 boneless, curly fries and a drink for $8.
12:00 PM: In our seats for tipoff, Game 1: #1 Ohio State vs. #8 Michigan. This really ought to be a blowout, except a) Thad Matta can't coach his way out of a wet paper bag at Ohio State and b) Michigan actually played these guys pretty close last time out. It does, in fact, turn out to be a good game.
Wireless signals are available but never work, so I check gmail with my phone. Boo to Conseco.
Ohio State isn't playing that hard. Michigan isn't playing that well. I guess they're evenly matched.
2:00 PM: Jesus. What a terrible way to lose. The only thing worse than losing like that is losing to the team with the worst-behaved fans in the Big Ten; said fans will now be crowing like they knew they had it won the whole time.
2:30 PM: Game 2, #5 Illinois vs. #4 Wisconsin. yawn. It's like watching yoga. Or mimes. We head out early and try to get seats. (There is only two hours between sessions ... this may seem like a lot until you've waited for 30 minutes to be seated and for another 20 minutes to place your order.)
By the way, when you average something like 55 points a game, you really can't fall behind by 10 or so. You're just not built to come back that far.
4:15 PM: We're at Coaches Tavern, I guess. It's not really well marked. We look for a table ... doesn't appear to be one. We stand at the door for a bit. People line up behind us. Fortunately, they're all well-behaved (meaning they aren't going to jump a table before us). We find one nestled in the back, though. Good news: we have a table. Bad news: it's in the back. (Also, Illinois hangs on to win. The Illinois person in our group survives.)
This place has good wireless, plus we could even get a signal from neighboring O'Reilly's, the Michigan bar. I catch up on email and such.
Eventually, they get the right person waiting on us, and we eat. The Albuquerque Burger: guacamole, salsa, and pepper jack. Waffle fries on the side. Thumbs up for this meal ... we had one of those bigger coupons, something like $15 off if you spend $35 or more. Decent meal and a nice rest, then back to Conseco.
6:30 PM: Game 3, #2 Purdue vs. #7 Northwestern. Quite possibly the worst Purdue game I've ever seen in person, only because this used to be a good team. (When I had season tickets at Purdue, they didn't break .500.) I avoided killing anyone around me who rooted against Purdue, the Boilers held on to win, and I could breathe again.
Why is Northwestern not in the NCAA tournament? Because they lose games like this one. And the game at IU, and the ones they lost to Penn State and Iowa ... you know, the three teams that lost on Thursday.
9:00 PM: Game 4, #3 Michigan State vs. #6 Minnesota. Purdue will face either the team that just beat them in Mackey or a team that is fighting for an NCAA bid. woo.
Michigan State, not surprisingly, becomes the fourth higher-seeded team to play like crap. They fall behind by 10 and we leave.
10:45 PM: At BWW, our third and final stop for the night. It's the Wisconsin bar, so of course there aren't many Wisconsin people here. We watch MSU fight back and force overtime, then completely crap themselves and lose. Purdue vs. Minnesota Saturday. woo.
There are drunk people from various schools. All are pretty much decent folks. (In fact, even OSU people are generally decent ... it's just that the ones that aren't are loud enough to spoil it for everyone else.) The rest of the party drinks up, I play some trivia, and then we head home.
A good night was had by ... well ... sometimes it just works out this way, you know?