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Final Four Fans Bedeck Themselves In Team Colors


You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. So the Final Four tonight in the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament, players from Connecticut, Wisconsin, Florida and Kentucky will take the court in Arlington, Texas. So they will be cheered on at AT&T Stadium by thousands of dedicated fans. Stephen Becker of member station KERA found out just how dedicated some of these fans can be.

STEPHEN BECKER, BYLINE: Three of the Final Four teams use blue as a school color. But on Friday, the bulk of that blue was on the backs of Kentucky fans.

MIKE SPENCER: I'm not going to miss Kentucky playing, man. You know, if we're going to the Final Four, I'm going to be there if I have to walk.

BECKER: That's Mike Spencer (ph), a horse trainer from Louisville. This is his ninth Final Four, and like other trips, he doesn't have tickets yet. But...

SPENCER: I always manage to get them. I always manage to get them.

BECKER: Jim Erwin (ph) just flew in from Ashland, Kentucky, and he doesn't have tickets either. But as a Wildcat fan, he knows his way around the Final Four. This is the school's third in the last four years. He expects to see a lot of Kentucky blue among the 85,000 fans at the games this weekend.

JIM ERWIN: I would say probably 60 percent will be Kentucky fans. The Florida fans do not travel well.

BECKER: Not so, says Gator fan Linda Boyd (ph).

LINDA BOYD: Ask a Kentucky fan if they've ever gone to an away football game - never.

BECKER: She and her husband, John, are from Jacksonville.

BOYD: My father graduated from the University of Florida in 1951. I've been going to the football games since I was 10.

BECKER: The Florida basketball team, which has won 30 in a row, has the odds on favorite to cut down the nets Monday. But don't count out maybe the most unlikely team to make the trip, UConn. Russell Steinberg (ph) just got in with his dad from Farmington, Conn.

RUSSELL STEINBERG: On the way here, almost lost in the first round to Saint Joe's. Could've lost to Villanova, could've lost to Iowa State, Michigan State. Always helps when you have the best player in the tournament, though, on your team. That would be Shabazz Napier.

BECKER: Napier lead UConn to an upset of Michigan State last weekend. Steinberg immediately went online to find Final Four tickets.

STEINBERG: Got those for a little over $100 each.

BECKER: That's a steal considering choice seats in the cavernous stadium are going for two grand and up, which might be worth it for Wisconsin fans. Pat and Sue Lakey (ph) heard the Badgers were in while traveling in Colorado, and they weren't going to miss it.

PAT LAKEY: We picked up the phone and called our friends in Wisconsin and said we want to go. So Wednesday morning, we got in the car and here we are. Go Badgers.

BECKER: And on Monday, they might finally get to call their school national champions. For NPR News, I'm Stephen Becker.


SIMON: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Stephen Becker