We’re still recovering from the madness of last night’s Sweet 16 matchups here in Houston at the NCAA South Regional. As we roamed the parking lot before tipoff of the opening game that pitted local favorite Baylor against St. Mary’s, we quickly learned that Baylor fans are fantastic. They were great not so much for their dedication to their university but more because there were tons of them and most were willing to talk on camera.
In case you missed our earlier post, TheBaker and I are here at the South Regional representing YardBarker, shooting videos to reflect the fan experience in Houston. The videos will be posted on YardBarker here at the Journey to the Tourney hub. Champion is sponsoring the project and they’ve been awesome. Shockingly they actually found some clothes small enough to fit TheBaker.
While cruising through the parking lot searching for fans to talk to, we saw a sea of green and yellow. Baylor fans were out in force. That shouldn’t be surprising when you consider the Bears call Waco home and it’s just a short 200 miles from the campus to Reliant Stadium. Finding fans of the other three teams in this regional was a chore, they blended in to the background. Even Duke wasn’t as well represented as we assumed.
But Baylor was a different story. They packed Reliant last night and that atmosphere directly contributed to the woodshedding they unleashed on St. Mary’s. In fact, according to the Indianapolis Star, last night’s regional was attended by 45,505 fans, the second highest total in NCAA regional history.
Sure, Baylor hasn’t had much to cheer about lately and they’re not exactly a big-time sports power. But the school’s fans have represented themselves well here in Houston. They have a firm grasp of tradition, what it takes to be a top-tier team and what a Final Four appearance would mean to the basketball program and the school.
Who would have thought Baylor had such a great fanbase? When I think Baylor I think Patrick Dennehy, Dave Bliss and football futility. I certainly didn’t picture legions of adoring fans packing a gigantic football stadium to root on their resurgent basketball program.
So kudos to Baylor and its fans. They’ve had a great showing here in Houston so far.