DETROIT -- The scalper below told me that business is bad at the Burning Tire Final Four -- just like business is bad everywhere in this city.
"But what about all the Michigan State fans coming in for the game?" I asked. "I thought they were saving the market."
"Michigan State fans are cheap," he said. "They don't like to spend."
When the basketball was free -- for Friday's open practices at Ford Field -- more than 20,000 fans showed up. The teams were actually introduced, player-by-player, before taking the court for practice. Practice! Villanova's kids (but not Jay Wright) had fun waiting in the intro line.
One of the good moves the NCAA made this year was to add "student sections" along each end line. But the student sections are flat expanses of chairs ... so this is the view from the back row. If you're short, you may only be able to see Hasheem Thabeet's head.
I'm having trouble picking out my one Final Four souvenir. Should I go with the camoflauge cap on the left, or the camouflauge cap on the right? I like the versatility of these; you can watch a hoops game, then go on a pheasant hunt without changing costumes.
If you're looking for a shirt that still has a Radford logo on it ... I found it (below, at left). If you're looking for a Burning Tire logo so large it obscures most of a court, I found that too.
This was a nice touch: Upon picking up our press credentials, each media member was handed a one-of-a-kind drawing done by a local elementary school student. The inscription the shopping-cart drawing I received was, "I love my city because ... to go shopping to by a game [sic]."
Which leads me to believe this boy conveniently ignored the "my city because" part, and just wanted a new video game. It's Detroit. Can you blame him?
One of the great moments in local-TV sports history occurred here on Friday: A 6-foot-3 female reporter asked Hasheem Thabeet to take off his shoes and stand back-to-back with her, so she could say, "I'm 6-3," then stick the mic in Thabeet's face so he could say, "7-3."
The games tip off at 6:07 p.m. here in Detroit. My predictions are chalky: UConn over Michigan State. North Carolina over 'Nova. I don't care if that's boring. I just want to see the best-possible title game.