NEW ORLEANS - It was a big night for the University of New Orleans because it's been 21 years since the men's basketball team qualified for March Madness. The hype was felt all over campus, and some students say they were excited to be part of it.
“UNO has a lot of nailbiters so I'm looking forward to it being a close game," said Jonathan Sochia. "But I'm looking forward to them coming out on top.”
Excitement has been building all week at UNO.
“There’s electricity all throughout the atmosphere here," said Student Body President, Antonio Torres.
Students, both past and present, anxiously have waited for the Privateers to kick-off March Madness. Before Tuesday night's game, fans were found at the school bookstore suiting up.
“I just think it’s so historic because it’s an experience," said Alumna, Denise Brooks. "It made me think back to games in the 80’s. It’s a great accomplishment whether they win or not.”
“I don’t know, it’s really weird because I have math with one of these dudes so it’s really weird to watch them on ESPN or whatever channel the game is going to be on," said current student, Robert Giancontieri.
On campus, at 'The Cove,' the game started to a room of cheers that the players about 855 miles away in Dayton, Ohio could've heard if they listened close enough.
“I mean we are the only team in the state in the tournament - take a shot at LSU -" said Giancontieri while chuckling.
The team last played in March Madness in 1996, back when Independence Day was #1 in the box office, Tickle Me Elmo laughed its way to being the hottest Christmas toy, and when something called 'Google' started indexing the web.
“I’m so excited for the Privateers," said Brooks.
The spotlight wasn’t just on the University of New Orleans basketball team because students say being a part of March Madness will mean great things for the school’s future.
“UNO making it into March Madness puts us on the map and if we win a few rounds or make it all the way, it’ll bring more students, more scholarships and more athletes to our school," said Sochia.
The Privateers came up short losing 67-66. It was a heartbreaker for fans, but they say the loss doesn't matter because, for them, the team will always be number one.
"We're behind the basket ball team 100 percent," said Torres. "Just what they've given us, it's amazing. And at the end of the day we're all champions."
"Either way it's a proud moment," said Brooks.
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