LAS VEGAS — When you arrive to this town, you are bombarded with advertisements for every possible kind of entertainment. Want to see Cirque du Soleil do Michael Jackson? Want to see the people from America’s Got Talent to a revue? Want to see some magic? Oh, want to see the NIT?
Yes, to the great entertainment machine that is this desert town, the NIT is just another show to be put on and enjoyed and consumed. Like everything else, it is bright and shiny and fun. The Orleans Arena is a walk down a hallway from the Orleans Hotel & Casino, temporary home of MGN for this week.
Tonight, we will walk down that hall and watch Tylor Perry and North Texas take on a Wisconsin squad that is tough, hungry, and ready to win. It is difficult to tell which program will have the larger home crowd, as — aside from myself — I have seen one other person in school colors: an mid-50s man in Wisconsin gear checking in. Now, MGN didn’t scout out the entire city, and it could be that there are throngs of people ready to watch the game. That’s just the early observation. People making small talk asked why I am here. I pointed to my shirt, which said “North Texas” and had the diving eagle logo. “What is that?” they ask. I tell them it is my alma mater, and one of the NIT participants. They ask if that is related to the “madness.” I help them understand the difference. “Oh how fun!”
MGN had a mediocre salmon dinner but enjoyed some tasty drinks while catching up with an old friend who lives in town. Laughs were had. Money was spent. Memories made. Good times.
Keeping in mind the purpose of this trip, MGN went to bed at a reasonable hour.
This morning we’ll have a preview of tonight’s semifinals and some reaction to the newest women’s hoops coach. Right now, we have work to do. It is game day folks. It is time to shine.