Video by Elyssa Garfinkle
Story by Steven Peek
Now that evening and cooler weather have struck the Butler fans in New Orleans, attentions have turned from good food to good basketball.
Fans, no matter the hotel they were staying in, made their way to the JW Marriott in downtown New Orleans to wish the team good luck.
Butler Bulldog fans of all ages took pictures together, gave high fives, shared travel stories and compared festive fan gear outside the team hotel.
Butler President Bobby Fong and Athletic Director Barry Collier were both present among the hundreds of fans gathering as a prelude to tonight’s Sweet 16 game against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Butler students, many of whom arrived in “The Big Easy” this afternoon, are also now a part of the Butler crowd.
Al Carroll, president-elect of the Student Government Association, was one such student.
“I love seeing that there’s a lot of Butler fans here in New Orleans,” he said. “People from all over the country made the trip, and it just adds to the experience.”
Carroll, who said that the Bulldogs have never given a reason for his support to falter, said that even fans of other Bulldog schools have been showing support for the No. 8-seeded Butler team.
“We met some people from Mississippi State at our hotel. They said ‘Bulldogs are Bulldogs, no matter the school.’”
Carroll also said he’s enjoying the run Butler is making, even though some still consider the team underdogs.
“Some people say we should be even more of an underdog now, since last year we were a No. 5 seed and now we’re a No. 8 seed.”
Both he and Levester Johnson, vice president for student affairs at Butler, are confident that Butler will leave New Orleans Arena tonight with a ticket to the Elite 8.
“I think the tenacity of our team and that they’re prepared will allow them to go far,” Johnson said. “I don’t think we could’ve gotten a better matchup, and the track ahead of us will mean we can get back to the Final Four.”
“I’m looking forward to a couple more days down here.”