The NCAA has rolled into town, turning NRG Stadium from a huge barn into a huge basketball arena. Last-minute touches were still being applied to the stands, but Duke, Gonzaga, Utah and UCLA were in town and prepping for tonight's games. Yesterday was media day, the chance for players to practice on the raised court on the middle of the floor surrounded by temporary bleachers and huge black curtains while answering mostly innocuous questions from assembled members of the media.
The Stadium Layout
The layout's no different from what it was for the 2010 Regionals or for the 2011 Final Four. The court's raised about three feet on the middle of the stadium floor. Temporary metal stands line run up to the press area on the baselines. The depth perception on the court, or anywhere in the arena, is nonexistent, which once again means that shooting percentages should be anemic. The view from most of the seats should be of little dots running on a little board, and the fans will probably spend more time looking at the video boards than at the actual play on the court.
But seeing as how there is no Texas team playing in the regional -- thus no pack of Baylor fans swarming the stadium and buying up most of the seats -- a large section of the stadium has been curtained off. Except for some metal bleachers, there is absolutely no seating behind the end lines. Of course, maybe if the tickets weren't so damn expensive -- there were rumors floating around yesterday that only about 20,000 seats had been sold -- the NCAA wouldn't have to deploy two humongous black curtains to block off most of the seating.