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My Michigan March at Madison Square Garden

Our own Rian Ratnavale’s experience as a Michigan fan in the Big Apple and “The Most Famous Arena in the World”

Big Ten Basketball Tournament - Second Round Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

As I got out of the subway station at Times Square, I, like any person far away from home in New York, was amazed. Sure, the flashing lights, ridiculously huge signs, and endless crowds of people were a sight to behold on their own, but what stood out to me the most were the colors.

Maize and Blue.

Different hues of red for Wisconsin and Maryland.

Pittsburgh Steeler-esque black and gold for Iowa.

Even some scarlet, gray, green and white from those teams.

Being a proud, newly Christened Michigander, I couldn’t resist letting out a “Go Blue” each time I passed someone else dressed in Big Ten gear. Results, needless to say, were mixed. Something about Times Square, though, reminded me of Ann Arbor.

After wandering around Times Square for a while, I needed to, you know, go to the actual game. For those of you that have never been to Madison Square Garden, the place is GIGANTIC. It is without a doubt, the Jon Teske of NBA arenas.

To get into this cathedral of a basketball arena for only $20 felt like downright highway robbery. Once I climbed a ton of stairs, I got to my seat in Section 414. Including myself, there were 50 people who made the trip from Ann Arbor for Maize Rage, Michigan basketball’s student section.

That’s where I ran into Carmine Finelli, one of the leaders of the core part of the Maize Rage that coordinates the rest of the student section. Carmine said that he and the rest of the Maize Rage leaders worked with the athletic department to secure those discount seats at Section 414. Carmine drove up to New York all the way from Ann Arbor with a few of the other members of Maize Rage. Like the rest of us, Carmine was pretty pumped up.

Although some of the games the day before were almost empty, both teams definitely traveled well. There were definitely a lot more cheers for Michigan, but for being 915 miles away, Hawkeyes fans made their presence felt during Iowa’s runs to close out each half. After moving down to the bottom bowl of The Garden, I had the pleasure of meeting Dave.

Dave (OK, I’ll be honest I don’t actually know if that’s his real name or not) kept chirping at me and the rest of the Michigan students sitting with me, cursing at us whenever Jordan Bohannon hit a three or when Mo Wagner and Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman picked up a questionable foul. Dave even felt it was necessary to flex his biceps to us whenever the Hawkeyes dunked.

Dave ended up getting kicked out because of all that. Don’t be a Dave.

There was a certain beauty to watching Michigan play at a neutral site as hallowed as the Garden. It was a place where I wasn’t able to completely camouflage myself among other Wolverine fans from people like Dave, but didn’t stand out like a sore thumb. The arena erupted after every Duncan Robinson three-pointer, but was just as loud for every answer that Iowa had down the stretch.

Between Hawkeye Nation and us Wolverines fans, I felt like we were part of our own game paralleling the one taking place on the court. As awesome as Crisler can be during a tight conference game in January, it just doesn’t compare to the atmosphere at a place like MSG during arguably the best sports month of the year.

Like the Wolverines, I’m going to come back and do it all again today against Nebraska. I’d be doing a disservice to the Garden, to the other fans, and the block M if I didn’t.