A lbuquerque — If Los Angeles is the Coors Events Center west, then Albuquerque is the CEC’s southern headquarters.
A pre-game at Kelly’s Brew Pub in Albuquerque came complete with appearances from C-Unit regulars, mascot Chip the buffalo and the spirit squad. Fans said the experience helped them get into full-on school spirit.
Many Boulderites made the eight-hour trip to Albuquerque to support the Colorado men’s basketball team during the second-round South Regional game of the NCAA Basketball Tournament against the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Even before the got underway, Buff fans roared like they were at a home game. Black and gold scattered The Pit — the home of the University of New Mexico Lobo basketball teams — but a definitive student section assembled in the upper rows behind the school band.
Fans from Colorado said they drove for hours, even some incurring speeding tickets along the way to make it to the game.
“We can’t not go when it’s right down the street,” Ann Scott said, director of development of the CU engineering school.
CU booster Fred Bradford agreed. He said he made the reasonably shorter drive from where he lives in Santa Fe, N.M. He said CU’s enormous fan turnout to recent post-season games has really been a great asset to the team.
“Mike Bohn should really be congratulated,” Bradford said.
While some students arrived on a shuttle bus, courtesy of CU’s Athletic Director, Bohn, and the athletic department, others drove themselves and said they stayed in “grungy” hotels just to see the Buffs play in the NCAA Tournament.
Many students also took their passion to a higher level, by donning specially designed CU attire.
Kevin McKechney, Dakota Burke and Steven Owens dressed in matching tuxedo shirts paired with black and marigold overalls — but each with their own personal touch.
McKechney said he was the resident athlete, wearing multiple sweatbands. Burke wore a necklace that he said was esigned specifically for beer money. And Owens said he was a miner — complete with goggles and a helmet. Owens described himself as a CU superhero.
“I’m the Batman of Denver and Boulder,” Owens said.
The Buffs mixed in the stands that were also occupied by the sea of red from University of New Mexico and UNLV fans, and came with the intention of making noise.
“If you had a scale from one to 10 and it had CU after that at a nuclear level, I’d be beyond that,” Owens said.