MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — WCCO has been your home for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The championship game Monday night may not include a Minnesota team, but it will have some strong Minnesota ties.
There were plenty of Minneapolis fans taking in the Badgers win over Kentucky that sent them into the title game. Wisconsin will take on Duke at about 8 p.m. Monday. For Saturday night’s Final Four game, there was standing room only at bars supporting Wisconsin.
If you’re a Badgers or Blue Devils fan and going out for Monday’s game, get to your destination early. Wisconsin’s alumni group said they are adding another official watch party to accommodate all the fans here in Minnesota.
But even though Minnesotan fans have a long history with our neighboring state, there are still going to be a lot of people backing Duke. There are some who just don’t want to see Wisconsin win, but others who are cheering on a starting Duke player from Apple Valley.
The Badgers’ alumni group estimates 19,000 Wisconsin alums are living in Minnesota right now and it shows. Official Badger watch parties for the NCAA title game will happen again at Bar 508 Monday night. But the group is adding another official watch party in Minneapolis at The Loop Bar.
One the other side of the court, an estimated 1,000thousand Duke alums live in Minnesota. They’ll be gathering at Park Tavern in St. Louis Park.
One new Duke fan — Apple Valley High School’s Basketball Coach Zach Goring, will be watching the game from home. He’ll be cheering on No. 5, his former player Tyus Jones, who is Duke’s starting point guard.
“He’s a pass first point guard. Many of the schools that were in the Final Four are some of the schools that chased him the hardest in recruiting,” Goring said.
A starting varsity point guard from the time he was in eighth grade, Jones helped lead reigning state champions Apple Valley to their first championship in 2013.
The college freshman is now making big plays for Duke with his hometown community eagerly looking on.
“Just so many times when yon national TV they’re saying from Apple Valley, Minnesota, from Apple Valley High School. That’s so good for our school,” Goring said.
A Minnesota player is just one of the main attractions in a game that’s sure to bring out the fans.
The alumni groups putting on those watch parties, especially for Wisconsin, said it’s a good idea to get there as early as possible. They had people coming in a few hours early just to have a spot to stand even to watch the last games.