April 12, 2024

11 games in 1 day: one man’s quest for the ultimate college basketball buffet

LAS VEGAS — It turns out it’s possible to play 11 basketball games in one day, but you might need a little luck.

Late, late, late on a Wednesday night three weeks ago, Stanford vs. Cal in the first round of the Pac-12 men’s tournament going into overtime. A few miles away and at the same time, Cal Baptist vs. Utah Valley in the Western Athletic Conference also goes to OT.

The effect of these developments meant excitement for the crowds at the T-Mobile Arena, located on the iconic Strip, and the Orleans Arena, which was right next to it. For me, it made my courageous (or foolish, unhealthy, and unwise) mission to attend the men’s hoops games in Sin City every day during one of the craziest weeks of the year a success.

This year, as so many times in the past, five conference tournaments were held in this brightly lit part of the Nevada desert, and on March 13, four were in action; the Pac-12, the Mountain West, the Big West and the WAC.

So many hardwood clashes in one city means that basketball fans can regularly attend multiple games in a day, often taking the opportunity to see games between teams other than their own from the same conference, or even heading out to see something else.

“I played four games in one day one year,” Oregon fan Bruce “Tank” Marchant, 62, told me. “But they were all at the MGM (Grand Garden Arena). The furthest I walked between games was to the craps table and back.”

In recent years, there has been talk among hardcore fans about something called the mythical “Vegas Basketball Buffet,” with fans wondering if it would even be physically possible to be at every game during the busy early rounds of the various tournaments. It should be noted that most hypothetical versions of the challenge involved the consumption of an adult beverage at each stop, something we do not encourage.

While it is conceivable that the mission was completed earlier, some fairly extensive investigation by FOX Sports has failed to find anyone who has officially laid claim to completing the quest.

Until now – and yours truly.

Martin Rogers’ college basketball odyssey

Martin Rogers' college basketball odyssey

Join Martin Rogers as he attempts to attend 11 basketball games in one day!

From 11am to 11pm on that bad Wednesday I went at it, shuffling between one location and another, and then back again and again, so many short drives and long walks and security checks that it made me dizzy. I’m too old and not cool enough to try the drinking version, although it might have helped. It turned out that even the sober challenge was a true test of body and mind.

To add to the grueling nature, I started the day at 5 a.m. by driving four hours from California, not the smartest move, but inevitable when you have a 15-year-old soccer player and a 5-year-old Tae. kwon do athlete in the house, both of whom expect you to go to their games and training sessions.

My first stop in Vegas was at the Thomas and Mack Center on the UNLV Campus for the Mountain West opener, and since I was hoping for a triumphant outcome, this seemed like an appropriate starting point. The Mountain West had an outstanding regular season and actively advocated for a record six NCAA Tournament bids throughout the tournament, and ultimately did so.

Unfortunately, none of them went to Fresno State or Wyoming, where they battled it out in an entertaining late morning matchup, a battle I left just before halftime before driving to T-Mobile to watch Bronny James and USC Washington take on overcome a blow. late comeback.

The next few hours were a mini Groundhog Day, walking the same path between the same locations: Colorado State vs. San Jose State, UCLA vs. Oregon State, and then back to Thomas and Mack one last time before the tournament. New Mexico Lobos and their crushing of the Air Force.

While I was there, I ran into a reporter friend, local journalist Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who looked over my evening schedule and shook his head.

“You’re crazy,” he said. “But I love it.”

During the evening sessions things started to get difficult. By now my eyes were glassy, ​​the headache of all headaches was hammering my skull, I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I was only five of the eleven games on the road.

The difficulty lay in planning; three games are scheduled for 6 p.m. and another three all start at 8:30 p.m., including the introduction to the program at Orleans Arena and the Dollar Loan Center, about 10 miles away in suburban Henderson.

I heeded Hill’s advice and took a sort of reverse snake approach, starting and ending at T-Mobile, and playing back-to-back games in Henderson to avoid the need for a second trip there.

That meant the strange feeling of watching Stanford vs. Leaving Cal after just eight minutes of play (the minimum requirement I set for myself to make a game ‘count’) and then heading to Orleans for the first time, where Cal Baptist faced off. a team from Utah Valley loudly supported by a bunch of guys in head-to-toe “green man” bodysuits.

Eight more minutes of action in the books and it was off to Dollar Loan, but here my technological uselessness almost proved to be my downfall. A wrong move on the GPS took me to an actual Dollar Loan outlet, instead of the stadium, which wasn’t great because (a) I wasn’t currently looking for a loan, (b) the store was closed anyway, and (c) it was seven miles from where I was supposed to be.

Eventually I got back on track, and by the time I reached the Big West tournament grounds, there were still a few ticks over eight minutes left at Cal State Bakersfield vs. UC Riverside.

The break between matches allowed me to upload some footage for the FOX Sports team to use in the video in this story, take a breather, take a look at the arena’s very pleasant concourse bar and eatery, which taking headache tablets and I was worried about how I would complete the last three matches.

It was then that the joyful news sunk in that the 6pm games I had previously attended were overtime, which would significantly relax my schedule.

Don’t panic, I caught the first part of Cal State Northridge vs. UC Santa Barbara and then headed back to Orleans as the glowing lights of the Strip unfolded in the distance.

By the time I got there, I caught the end of Stephen F. Austin’s first verse, chatted with some fans who I think almost bought into my claim that I was at my tenth match of the day (four credentials around my neck may have helped ), grabbed the start of the second half and then headed to T-Mobile, sandwiched between New York New York and Park MGM, for the last time of the evening.

I abandoned my previous approach to parking at the Tropicana, soon to be demolished in favor of a new baseball stadium and perhaps the last free parking lot in Vegas, and spent $30 on a spot next to the arena, which my kind and generous editor will hopefully approve my expense report.

When I rushed into T-Mobile, there was a mini exodus in the other direction. Utah delivered such a blow to Arizona State at halftime, 47-22, that fans voted with their feet, reasoning that the evening delights of Las Vegas casinos and bars were a better bet than the last vestiges of a blowout.

For me, it was pure relief that I had completed the mission, which I took on because I love college basketball. The whole odyssey also made me realize that maybe I’m not that into it.

As a wild postscript, those headaches turned out to be the first signs of shingles of the head and eyes, a condition that landed me in the emergency room on the drive home, followed by a ten-day hospital stay, and still causes double headaches. vision as I write these words (so please forgive any typos).

So while it wouldn’t be entirely true to say that watching eleven games in a day will land you in the hospital, I can confirm that this is not for the faint of heart.

Before starting the return journey, a quick last look at the schedule for the respective tournaments made me realize that the next day was in fact also 12 games. Additionally, if you add in the handful of women’s tournaments taking place in the city, you could come up with an alternative 16-match-a-day challenge, one that would likely require teleportation, or at least a helicopter.

It will probably take me a year to talk myself into that. Or leave it to someone else. Who is ready for the challenge?

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX And subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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