There will be one heck of a party in the student union Friday as University at Buffalo faculty, staff and those students who stayed on campus over spring break gather to watch their Bulls take on West Virginia in the "Big Dance."
Workers already have begun preparing for the festivities, installing a huge banner in the lobby in preparation for the watch party, which is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. Fans will be able to watch the game in the student union theater and on a big screen in the lobby. Free food - including blue popcorn - as well as T-shirt giveaways, face-painting, prizes and music will be available.
The student union party is part of a full lineup of watch parties stretching from UB's backyard, halfway across the country, and up and down the East Coast. Fans of the Bulls' historic NCAA tournament game will not have to dance alone.
The lineup of parties - already extending as far as Tampa and Dallas - continues to grow as March Madness fever and anticipation builds for the game. Tipoff is set for 2:10 p.m.
"We had 160 attend two watch parties last Friday and Saturday in Manhattan during the MAC Tournament, and the excitement has only grown now that we've taken the next step," said Michael L. Jankowski, associate director of alumni engagement.
"More cities where we have a presence have gotten the UB 'Dancing Bug' as well, and alumni are gathering together as groups to cheer on the men's team."
The Bulls are making their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament after receiving the MAC's automatic bid following an 89-84 win over Central Michigan in the championship game March 14. UB currently is 23-9 on the year, riding an eight-game winning streak. The winner of the UB-West Virginia game will face the winner of the Maryland-Valparaiso game on Sunday.
As of Tuesday, watch parties were scheduled for Albany, Charlotte, Dallas, New York City, Philadelphia, Rochester, Tampa and Washington, D.C., as well as Columbus, the site of the game.
The list of local parties registering with UB's office of alumni relations stood at four as of Tuesday:
An updated list of UB Bull watch parties - expected to grow as the game approaches - is posted on the Bulls' "Tournament Central" webpage.