The flavor of Raleigh

RALEIGH, NC-The best part of the NCAA Tournament is getting to see teams from all over the country. Not only do you get to see different styles of play, but you also get to see the different fans and traditions. Here is a taste of the flavor from the two days at the RBC Center.

BEST PLAYER DAY 1
Kelly Whitney was a warrior. His 24 points and 14 rebounds sparked the Pirates. He did a lot of the damage on one leg after a cramp nearly hobbled him.

BEST PLAYER DAY 2
Luis Flores was great, but Chris Paul was amazing. Paul singlehandedly willed the Deacons to the win over Manhattan. The Jaspers could not stop him from driving to the lane.

BEST GAME
Wake Forest played two tough games. Their wins over VCU and Manhattan were both tight. Considering the late comeback by the Jaspers, we'll give that one the nod. Arizona/Seton Hall is right there.

WORST MASCOT
Duke's mascot was a bit strange. It really didn't do much other than raise it's fist and pace around. Stranger still was the condition of the headgear. The Blue Devils wears a blue cowl, but the "flesh" part had yellowed, giving it a jaundiced look. Stranger yet was the fact that it had strange black scuffs on the cheek, chin and nose. The final odd touch was that the ears, made of a different material than the face, still have a bright, vibrant flesh color, making the face look even more sickly.

HEAVENLY INTERVENTION
It only worked for one game, but maybe Seton Hall had a little extra guidance by having a priest on the end of the bench. The Hall is a Catholic institution, so it isn't a new thing to have a man of the cloth in attendance.

OOPS, WRONG TEAM
During the Manhattan win over Florida, a number of fans began a mocking "Tomahawk Chop" chant. The only problem, it's the chant of rival Florida State, not Florida.

PREDRAG STOJAKOVIC LOOK ALIKE
Manhattan's Mike Konovelchick bares a striking resemblance to Sacramento Kings' star Predrag Stojakovic. With a similar style and a difficult name, one fan in attendance asked "what country is he from?" To which the guy next to him replied, "New Hampshire."

MOST HATED
Most of the fans in the early session were behind Manhattan and took a huge dislike to Florida's Matt Walsh. Walsh was booed after repeatedly complaining to the officials. The crowd turned on him for good after a flagrant foul. Following the hard hit, the crowd booed him every time he touched the ball.

BEST BAND
The Alabama State band put all others to shame. They played great, had some fun choreography and even brought a full drum line, rather than a single drummer.

WORST BAND
Manhattan traveled without a band, thus automatically giving them the day's worst band.

CONTRASTING STYLES
Several of the games featured cheerleaders that were cut from totally different cloths. Florida's dance team wore black spandex and performed choreographed dance routines. Manhattan's cheerleaders looked like the Jaspers hired a local high school to stand in for their group. The Jaspers' crew all looked very young and did little more than shake their pom poms and yell "go Jaspers"!

The Duke and Alabama State cheerleaders were quite different as well. The Duke group relied on flips and some organized cheers. The Alabama State group was very similar to most SWAC cheerleaders, they had great dance moves and did some cool acrobatics.

FUNNIEST CHANT
Alabama State fans taunting the Duke band and cheerleaders with a "get some rhythm" chant.

GETTING THE JOB DONE
After their win over VCU, Wake Forest is now 8-0 versus teams seeded 12 or lower.

NOT GETTING THE JOB DONE
Florida is now 1-2 versus No. 12 seeds.

NICE SHIRT BUDDY
A large contingent of Wake Forest fans wore yellow and black tie-dyed shirts. They were easily the most noticeable fans.

SO MUCH FOR THE HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
Although Duke is less than 20 miles from the arena, there were surprisingly few Duke fans in attendance on the first day. Granted there were probably a good 5,000+, but in the early stages of their game they were drown out by a small cluster of Alabama State fans. To their credit, they were out in force on Saturday. The crowd grew to well over 7,000 and there were tons of fans in the parking lot looking for tickets.

SO MUCH FOR CONFERENCE LOYALTY
Duke fans joined the Manhattan fans in taunting the two Wake Forest players who fouled out. A Wake fan held up a sign with a Deacon, UNC and NC State logos that read: "Anyone but Duke".

WHAT IS A JASPER?
A Manhattan fan was wearing a t-shirt with the legend "What Is A Jasper?" She was continually getting stopped by fans who wanted to know just that. The actual explanation was lengthy and took up the entire back of her shirt. The abbreviated explanation is that the team is named for a Brother Jasper, who helped found the school and had something to do with the basketball team's early days.


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