March Madness has come to the Big Apple for the first time in 53 years.
There's a certain wow factor to playing in the World's Most Famous Arena, and the building itself has already made quite the impression on the Cavaliers, who battle Michigan State on Friday night.
“It makes an impression on me because of the history and the players but also the players that are playing for the Knicks right now and that are walking in this locker room day in, day out,” Virginia sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon said. “It's astonishing to be in here using the same facility that they use.”
Senior forward Akil Mitchell said: “This is the mecca of basketball and so as a fan, as a kid growing up, you hear about Madison Square Garden. You watch Kobe and Carmelo and all of those guys go off for 50 and 60 points and you always dream about playing here. So to land in the city and see all the bright lights and to see all the big buildings that you see on TV all the time, and to finally get to come here to the Garden, it is just huge for us.”
Sophomore forward Mike Tobey said he has been to MSG a few times to see St. John’s games.
“You can’t go to a better place to play,” Tobey said.
It doesn't matter if you've been to the Garden hundreds of times or this is your maiden voyage, the Goosebumps will inevitably come.
“I get a kick out of reading the papers where a kid is there for the first time and what it means to him,” Raftery said. “You may go to a building that you think is more attractive or there's something about it fan wise, but they call it the mecca. And I think for everybody who's ever done anything here, they've done it in their backyard, simulated it and hoping one day that they'll get the opportunity. And these four teams are really privileged, particularly those kids that have never played here before.”