Road to the Final Four: The Nation’s Capital
Washington, D.C. is a city that is used to being the center of attention. This past weekend, the nation’s capital once again was a place-to-be as it hosted the East Regionals of the NCAA tournament. The Capital One Arena, the usual home to the Wizards and Capitals, held three games over two days featuring LSU, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Duke.
The arena was originally known as the MCI Center when it opened in 1997. It is located at the junction of the Chinatown and Penn Quarter neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., and sits atop the Gallery Place station of the Washington Metro subway system. The area around the arena was once pretty dull, but now the area buzzes with excitement, game day or not. When March Madness comes around, that buzz just gets louder.
Duke and the superb Zion Williamson were the dominant stars coming into the event. But each of the other teams drew well and had good support from their fan base. Virginia Tech may not be a usual basketball draw, but the area has massive amounts of alumni from the school, and they showed up in droves. LSU and Michigan State are also schools that get their fans to games no matter where and when the game is held.
The Friday night games were uneven in excitement. The opener featured the Michigan State squad dominate the Tigers of LSU, with the game never in much doubt. In the nightcap Duke survived a scare from Virginia Tech, 75-73, when the Hokies missed two shots in the final seconds, including an Ahmed Hill miss at the buzzer.
Coming back to the arena a couple days later the buzz was a little different. The Hokie and Tiger fans were no longer around. It was just the Spartan and Blue Devils fighting for that coveted Final Four spot, with most people expecting Duke’s Williamson to get the team the win. Instead the Spartans’ got a 68-67 win, sending the team to Minneapolis.
Overall the weekend was filled with excitement and D.C. and the Capital One Arena was a great host for such an event.