GW at the NCAA tournament in Nashville

Originally uploaded by squidpants.
so I went down to Nashville last weekend to see GW play Georgia Tech in the NCAA tourney. This was GW's first time in the NCAAs since 1999, when we got beat by Indiana. Ga. Tech was a tough draw, especially since I think they were in the championship game last year. GW was a 12 seed and Tech was a 12, thus hopefully setting us up for the 12-5 upset that always happens at least almost once every year. (Pictured is GW doing warmups before the game.)

I went with my friend Mike from GW and we flew down on Friday afternoon for the game which was that night. We got to our hotel, sort of near the airport in an industrial area, and took a bus downtown to go to see what was going on and to catch the GW alumni reception. Weirdly enough, Nashville is really easy to get around by bus, we took it everywhere we needed to go all weekend. The bus was pretty funny, lots of random odd city folk on there, and they were much friendlier than DC buses, since nobody ever talks on the DC buses. We got to the stadium and the place was mobbed, it looked like Mardi Gras without the boobs, the were streets packed with not totally sober folks all wearing different colored shirts and jerseys. We saw a lot of Louisville fans with the occasional Ohio or other fans. Then a minute or so later we saw some GW folks, who turned out to be big posters at gwhoops.com which was pretty cool, since we're both posters there too. We went to get a beer with them at a nearby bar and talked a bit before we all headed up to the alumni reception, which was pretty sweet. As we walked up to the room it was in, we saw the mascot (pictured below with me and my free shirt) and the band and a huge pile of buff (i.e. tan) shirts and hats. We were pretty happy to learn they were free, so we got those and hit the buffet.

Met some more gwhoops.com folks and also saw some folks I knew from school, then we decided to go to see the game before ours, Louisville and Louisiana-Lafayette. I don't know why they don't just call it the University of Louisiana, since I'm pretty sure it's the biggest one there, definitely bigger than UL-Monroe, and I've never heard of any others. I mean, everyone calls Tennessee just Tennessee and the other ones Tennessee-Chattanooga or UT-Martin and so on. But anyway, we heard our seats would be good, but I was worried since they were row CC, they'd be way up there. However, that turned out to be the third row, which was awesome. Here's the view during the Louisville game.

Obviously they're really good seats, and that's Michael Wilbon's bald head there. (You can see more pics I took during the trip at my Flickr.) Anyway, the Louisville-Louisiana game was pretty good, and Louisiana had one of the hottest cheerleaders I have ever seen in my life. She was amazing. I wish I had taken a picture, but felt kind of lame doing it so I didn't. And it was cool to see Rick Pitino, Louisville's coach, right across the court, it sort of felt like I was seeing a movie star. Which was odd, but cool. We enjoyed the game and talked to some forties-ish ladies sitting behind us who were Louisville fans. They thought we were Georgia Tech fans at first, which made sense, because both Tech and GW are exactly the same colors. We got the usual "so where is George Warshington anyway?" "what's your mascot?" and so on, but they were nice ladies. The stadium itself was impressive, it was where the NHL team, the Nashville Predators, play. It seemed to have a good atmosphere too, it was nice and loud, unlike the MCI Center, which is like a giant, silent cave. The place was packed, mostly with Louisville fans, so it was pretty loud.

So Louisville won a close one, and soon it was time for our game. It started really well for GW, we started out with two straight monster dunks by Pops Mensah-Bonsu, getting fouled on one, and then a three-pointer by TJ Thompson. The Tech fans were stunned, they must have been thinking "who the hell is this team?" The cool thing was that there were probably as many GW fans as Tech, as we were louder for practically the whole game. It was pretty close throughout, the score going from about us by 1 to Tech by 3 for probably the first 15 minutes. However, the whole time we were shooting terribly from the free-throw line, missing the front end of one-and-ones and both shots a couple times. We finished the game 4-19, which is terrible, we usually shoot 70%. So we kept missing foul shots and Tech started to make ridiculous running shots and they pulled away with a few minutes to go. They won 80-68, which sucked because it looked worse than it was. We played a good game and kept most of their players in check, especially the big goofy-looking 7 foot Australian Luke Schensher, who we all worried would dominate our smaller front line. So that was too bad. After the game we were pretty down and went to a bar called the Flying Saucer, a small chain (with a bizarre website) that two of my friends recommended. It was a cool place, kind of like the Brickskeller in DC, with a lot of different beers. There was a $2 cover, which was weird, but I had an excellent local beer called Onward Stout from the Nashville-based Yazoo brewery. I highly recommend it if you can find it. Plus it was like $3.50. Most of the beers down there were cheap, Guinness and Sierra Nevada were always less than $4 wherever we went, and they were always fresh, which is something I haven't been able to find in DC.

We checked out the downtown bars a bit, which was pretty quiet, then went back to our hotel. The next day we decided to see the sights, like the Parthenon (below).

As you can see, the Parthenon is a full-size replica of the one in Greece, built for Nashville's centennial in 1879 or something, and rebuilt out of stone this century. Kind of hard to tell from this picture but it's ginormous and has a big statue of Athena inside. We took the bus to get there and walked past an anti-war rally, which was cool to see. We then went to a place to eat my friends had recommended, called Rotier's. (Pronounced "Rochers" or something by the lady who gave us directions.) It's something called a "meat-and-three," which must be a Nashville thing, traditional southern food, with a meat dish and three veggies like okra, greens, etc. When we got there I realized I had been there before a couple years ago when my friends and I went up to Nashville either to see Al Gore name Joe Lieberman his VP, or for a Barenaked Ladies concert, I forget which time. Anyway, they had great burgers and shakes, and more cheap, fresh beer. It's right near the Vanderbilt campus so we decided to check that out too, and Mike, who is from New York, saw a Tennessee license plate with a Yankees sign on it, so he was pumped. We saw Vandy's football stadium, which is nice (I actually place lacrosse in it during high school, which was cool), and the frat row, which is awesome. Way better than GW. But then a row of boxes would be nicer than GW's frat row. I also picked up some local beer (Blackstone, also good) and some Goo Goo Clusters, an old-timey candy from Nashville made of marhsmallow, caramel, nuts and chocolate. Good stuff. Mike was shocked at the unhealthiness, which was funny, he was shocked a lot at the food. I wish I could have found a deep-fried twinkie or something ridiculous like that for him.

But our flight back was at 5, so we pretty much had to head back, and as usual, took the bus to the airport. It was a fun trip, despite the loss, so that's ok. Then when we got back, my pal Chris came out to pick us up at Dulles and he ended up driving around the place like 5 times because we were on the wrong level. Whoops. Here's a few more photos from the trip.

Pitino and Wilbon talking after our game

The court after our game

The marquee at the stadium

Mike with a GW shirt with the Titans' stadium in the background.

See bigger and deffer versions and more photos at Flickr.

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