Spartan Alan Muskovitz reflects on his journey at the NCAA tourney.
By Alan Muskovitz
Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of the Final Four, I will fear no evil…except Texas Tech. Amen.
A few days ago I had the great pleasure of attending this year’s NCAA Final Four basketball tournament games in Minneapolis to watch my beloved Michigan State Spartans. Though they didn’t make it to the championship game, MSU had a wonderful journey through the tourney and I (Class of 1978) had a wonderful journey to the tourney with my son Daniel (Class of 2008).
CBS markets the NCAA hoops tournament as the Road to the Final Four. For me, that road included a 6-hour ride in a rental car from Chicago on I-94 through Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. I flew from Detroit to Chicago to meet my son considering flights directly to Minneapolis from Detroit were hiked to a fan friendly $1,800! That, in basketball terminology, is a flagrant foul.
Fortunately, I wasn’t driving at the time we came across two restaurant signs along the route. One for an all-you-can-eat KFC buffet. I didn’t know that option existed. If we had dined there, at least I knew I wouldn’t be too far from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The same goes for the other delectable dining diversion we passed for “The Cheese Chalet.” There were so many signs promoting cheese in Wisconsin, that by the time we passed through the state I was lactose intolerant.
This was my second Final Four experience, Daniel’s third. Sadly, neither of us has witnessed that elusive national championship…yet. But I wouldn’t exchange the quality time with my son for all the championships in the world.
We got lucky to have seats in the first place. Prices for seats, like plane fare, were absurdly inflated on StubHub. But, in an act of unprecedented sportsmanship and menschiness, we received an email from my niece and her husband offering us two tickets for the Final Four at face value!
My niece, a University of Michigan grad, and her husband, a University of Wisconsin grad, and residents of Minneapolis, had purchased Final Four tickets in a NCAA ticket lottery months ago hoping that their schools would end playing in the “Big Dance” in their own backyard. Well, unfortunately their teams’ losses in the tournament turned out to be our gain. We will never forget them for their thoughtfulness and generosity! But wait, there’s more…
My niece and nephew offered up a spare bedroom in their home for our basketball weekend for only $300 a night! But with my AAA discount they saw their way to letting us stay in their home for free, which by the way, also included a large batch of Costco hamentaschen. In honor of the basketball tournament, I ate the “final four.”
After Michigan State lost to Texas Tech, we were able to sell our Monday championship tickets at a slight loss mind you, to some ecstatic Tech fans we met (ecstatic despite the fact that our seats, two of the 72,000, were only four rows from the top of U.S. Bank Stadium). How high up were they? A fan sitting next to me said he could see Russia from their seat. But the Sherpa who guided us said that wasn’t possible.
Next year’s Final Four is in Atlanta. I’m so confident MSU will make it back to the Final Four that I’ve already mapped out the best places to stop for peach pie while driving through Georgia.
Until then, thank you Spartans for a memorable season. Go Green!
Alan Muskovitz is a writer, voice-over/acting talent, speaker, and emcee. Visit his website at laughwithbigal.com, “Like” Al on Facebook and reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.