RALEIGH, NC- Thomas Bridges is a 2001 University of Virginia graduate living in the Raleigh suburb of Mooresville, NC. He has family in Chesapeake. He described his feelings about the Cavaliers basketball team playing as a number one seed just down the road from his home in two words. "It's awesome", he told 13News Now while watching practice with his two young sons.
Bridges says the top seed was a surprise to him, but he also added "it's well deserved".
Fan support for the Cavaliers at home games was not strong early in the season. However, the crowds grew as it became apparent this could be a special season. The last few home games at John Paul Jones Arena attracted big crowds, including a sellout so loud for the game against Syracuse that coach Tony Bennett compared it to the noise of "Taylor Swift concert" he had attended at the arena.
A large contingent of Virginia fans made the trek to Greensboro for the ACC title game. Another large contingent is expected tomorrow night in Raleigh.
Russ Barber has seen a lot of Cavalier basketball, both good and bad. Barber graduated from UVa in 1961 and until now, he says the team he remembers most fondly is the 1983 team led by Ralph Sampson...the last time 'Hoos were a #1 seed and ACC champ.
Barber says "its so exciting, it's hard to contain yourself." Barber lauds the players and coach Tony Bennett, saying "the players, the content of their character, and the coach, I'm really impressed".
The players have felt the fan excitement grow over the last several weeks. Sophomore forward Anthony Gill told 13News Now's Scott Cash "The fans have waited a long time for the team to be good, to be relevant again".
Another UVa fan at the open practice was Becky Davis, a Roanoke native who attend her first ever Cavalier game last week at the ACC tournament but is a life-long fan. Davis, like many Cavalier fans, has the team going "all the way" in her office bracket pool. Davis says "I think this is our season. I think we've proven it. I think it's disappointing what the analysts have been saying, but hey, I think we've been watching a different season.