One of the first reactions that many Minnesota fans had when hearing that the Gophers would play Xavier in Milwaukee was that it was essentially a home game for the local team.
That apparent advantage is even being discussed nationally, and was on the mind of the NCAA Selection Committee, as you can see in this Andy Katz column. This is great, right? Well, maybe.
From everything I've heard, getting tickets is next to impossible, even for some season ticket holders. So, for many who might want to attend, they'll have to go the extra mile to get themselves tickets. They'll have to wake up early Friday morning or leave Thursday night for Milwaukee, without ticket in hand, and head to the Bradley Center to scalp tickets. Not the biggest deal in the world, but a disincentive for sure to many.
I'm very curious to see how many Minnesota fans do indeed make the trip. Will the crowd be a partisan one in Minnesota's favor? I sure hope so, but Golden Gophers fans don't exactly have a history of traveling well. And what will it look like nationally, and to potential recruits, if this so-called 'home game' looks to be neutral. I think that will look poorly. Just look at what Kentucky fans did in Nashville for the SEC Tournament. If you didn't watch that SEC final, almost the entire arena was filled with blue and white. That was a true home game for UK on a neutral floor.
I know the Gophers don't have that sort of rabid following that has grown over decades. But if fans want to help Tubby Smith turn this program into a perennial Big Ten power, they sure better show up in large numbers. I'm hoping they will, but would bet they don't.