Hilton Coliseum has been the setting of countless outstanding basketball games, and Saturday’s contest against the Jayhawks proved to be no different. Iowa State and Kansas have developed intense, must-see basketball the past few years, and this time the whole nation was going to see it on one of college basketball’s premiere stages.
College GameDay is one of ESPN’s most exciting shows and it was a great sight to see Ames finally host it. Rece Davis, Seth Greenberg, Jay Bilas, and Jay Williams were all there, confirming the dream-like scenario that many found themselves in.
A cold, gloomy day in Ames was not going to interfere with excitement and intensity of the game. People who wanted to get into the game had lined up initially since Wednesday night, staying in tents just outside of Hilton Coliseum. Many were hoping to get a head start on College GameDay seating as well, even though ESPN was only allowing entry at 8 A.M. Saturday.
The crowd and atmosphere during College GameDay was electric. Many Iowa Staters felt that College GameDay should have made an earlier appearance in Ames, especially when Dick Vitale finally came around for the Cyclones’ game against the Michigan Wolverines last season. But, either way, ISU students made the most of yesterday’s appearance. Poster boards and signs were everywhere as students attempted their shot at fame. There was a sign saying “Hilton Magic” on a black poster, Jay Bilas on a poster board wearing a Fred Hoiberg jersey, there was a crew decked out in outfits that resembled the popular “Swagberg,” and then my personal favorite: fatheads of the team’s players.
Chants of “Let’s Go State…..Let’s Go State!” consumed the arena during the Gameday broadcast. The spotlight was on the Cyclones seemingly more than ever, and they delivered. The attendance for College GameDay at Hilton was around 6,000 and looked absolutely packed. If you looked around in your seat, you may have mistaken the tip-off time. It was difficult to hear the commentators during the show, but we didn’t care. We were on GameDay! The energy in the arena was through the roof and we were still more than 10 hours to tip-off.
When it was time for the show to make their picks, Jay Williams revealed a gold Cyclones jersey by ripping through his button down shirt. Right on cue, Hilton erupted. Fast forward to the game where the Cyclones triumphed over Kansas 86-81 which was the cherry on top of a great turnout for ESPN’s visit.
Many Cyclones were ecstatic that College GameDay finally made the trip to Ames. It had been a long time coming and Iowa State could not be more thrilled on the result. The fans, the atmosphere, and the Cyclones all delivered on Saturday. Ames is expecting to see you again, College GameDay.