WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The first games of the men’s NCAA Tournament are just days away, and Purdue is preparing to be the only host city with a team competing in the Big Dance.
“It really ramped up on Friday. That’s when the court started to come in, signage started to come in,” detailed Purdue Assistant Athletic Director of Event Management Katie Egloff. “All teams are staying in Indianapolis in their bubbles, and they make the drive up to West Lafayette for any practices and games.”
The new NCAA floor will sit right on top of Purdue’s home court. Per tournament rules, the Boilermakers are not allowed to compete at Mackey Arena in the tournament.
Purdue is expecting to house roughly 1,500 fans for their tournament games even though the arena maxes out at 14,000. Fans can expect to wear masks and sit in socially distant seating arrangements.
“You will see the fans mostly focus on the upper level,” explained Egloff. “We have had to take out a lot of sections for TV bubbling areas and also the bench. We have to have social distancing for each. That’s 25 in each bench space.”
As for the Purdue men, they snagged the 4th seed in the south region and will take on North Texas. That game is Friday night at Lucas Oil Stadium. After March Madness was cancelled last year for the pandemic, Purdue fans have lofty expectations.
“Boilers by 90! Purdue is winning the tournament,” laughed Purdue senior Zach Ebenroth. “I think everyone outside Purdue doesn’t know much about us, so having us do well, and having it here, will be cool.”
“We are going to get tickets,” said fellow Purdue senior Jacob Cole to his buddy Ebenroth. “Definitely for the Final Four in Indy.”
“Indiana was chosen as the epicenter of all this,” added another Purdue student Riley Glatts. “Purdue was going to miss the tournament last year, and so now we are a four seed.”