INDIANAPOLIS—It's not every day that one of the final four remaining college basketball teams has to attend class and then take a bus ride across town to prepare for the biggest game in school history.
That's the scenario many Butler players faced Friday morning. Butler's Gordon Hayward and Andrew Smith said their classes weren't too education-orientated, but instead filled with taking pictures, signing autographs, and enjoying time with their peers.
The week-long party in Indy is the result of Butler reaching its preseason objectives.
Several Butler players said their goal before the season was to make the NCAA Tournament and, once they did, also reach the Final Four and play in front of their hometown crowd.
Now that the Bulldogs are here in Indianapolis, the pressure should be on them to perform. That's at least what Michigan State players said after they dealt with a similar scenario last year with the Final Four in Detroit.
"There's definitely pressure, but there's also adrenaline you've never felt before," Spartan guard Durrell Summers said. "All those people in there are pulling for you. It's a great feeling. There's a lot more pressure because you feel like you got to win."
"It puts a lot of pressure on them because you are no longer playing for yourself, but you are playing for a whole state or community," sophomore Delvon Roe said. "You are going out there dealing with distractions. We handled [the distractions] pretty well last year, and we'll see how they handle them this year."
There is one major difference this year between Michigan State playing in Detroit and Butler playing in Indianapolis. The feeling last year was the Spartans were playing for the state of Michigan and the city of Detroit. Michigan State was playing to raise the spirit of a beleaguered state and city.
This Butler team is more just representing Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. Spirits are high among the droves of Butler fans that clearly outnumber all other fans combined.
"It's sort of overwhelming, sort of awesome to see so many people come out just to support us," Butler forward Matt Howard said. "On the way, people just waving, saying, thumbs up, 'Keep it going.' The city's been awesome."
The players have been able to stay loose and focused throughout this week despite distractions at the weirdest hours.
"I've had one person just walk straight into my room at 1 a.m. and ask for my autograph," freshman center Andrew Smith said. "It's been wild."
So wild that the school's president crowd surfed at a campus event. Of course, the sidewalks are jammed with Butler fans; the players have been bombarded with autographs and pictures on campus.
You have to shudder to think what this basketball-crazed city will do if Butler cuts down the nets Monday.
For more updates on college basketball, follow @JamesonFleming on twitter. He's in Indianapolis covering the Final Four for Bleacher Report.
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