Ninety minutes before tipoff, there was no line at the Ohio ticket window at Edward Jones Dome.
“Not much demand for Ohio tickets, eh?” a North Carolina State fan quipped, as he waited for his team’s ticket window to open.
He couldn’t have been more wrong: By the end of regulation time, almost everyone in the arena would be cheering for the Bobcats.
One hour before tipoff, an Ohio student was making her way to her seat.
“I’m going to stand for this whole game,” she said, bristling about being told to sit down during the Bobcats’ win against Michigan in Nashville a week earlier. Ohio fans don’t sit.
To say the Ohio section stood during the whole game would be an understatement. Bobcat fans jumped, danced, sang, chanted, shouted, fist-pumped and screamed throughout the entire game.
The relatively small section of green was a surging mass of sound and movement. Across the arena sat a block of fans in Carolina blue, clapping comparatively politely as their team took an early lead.
At halftime, Bobcat fans exchanged worried looks.
“We were down six at halftime against South Florida,” someone said. “We can come back.”
The Ohio contingent stood up and cheered as the ’Cats jogged back out for the second half. It was as if the fans didn’t want to let the team know they were concerned.
The team came out swinging, whittling down UNC’s lead. The camera suspended over the court began to turn more and more to the Ohio side, which would explode anew each time a 3-pointer was hit.
The UNC section remained seated as their team’s lead was eroded.
With less than nine minutes remaining in the second half, Ohio took the lead on a Nick Kellogg 3-pointer. Suddenly, UNC didn’t seem so confident.
A new chant emerged from the green and white: “Hey, Kansas, we need your help!” The huge KU faction seemed to take notice, as more and more Jayhawks began to cheer for the underdogs.
As the game clock dwindled, even the North Carolina fans stood up. NC State band members, clad in red and white stripes, waved their arms to distract UNC players during foul shots. A KU fan waved a borrowed Ohio flag to show his allegiance.
A “Let’s go, Bobcats!” chant spread throughout the arena. The ’Cats had turned Edward Jones Dome into The Convo.
At the end of regulation time, the collective heart rate of Bobcat Nation was at its zenith. Ohio had tied the game at 63. The Elite Eight was in reach, and it seemed like the city of St. Louis was behind the Bobcats.
They lost. Disappointed fans filed out of the dome, ignoring requests for Sunday tickets from Tarheels. A Kansas student offered consolation.
“That was awesome,” he said. “It was like a home game for you guys.”
An hour after the game, a downtown bar was packed with OU fans. A pro-Bobcat cheer flared up as a weak “UNC” chant petered out.
“Oh well,” someone said. “Next year.”
Joe Fox is a junior studying journalism, Assistant Copy Chief and a columnist for The Post. Email him at email@example.com.