INDIANAPOLIS -- If you can't be inside Lucas Oil Stadium to watch Butler's Gordon Hayward make jump shots tonight, you might as well be in the next-best place: Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse, the Bulldogs' home court and the famous gym where Jimmy Chitwood sank a jumper to win a mythical championship in the Hollywood film "Hoosiers."
That's where thousands of Butler fans are tonight to watch the Bulldogs play mighty Duke for college basketball's national championship.
According to Butler officials, more than 12,000 fans were here Saturday night to watch Butler defeat Michigan State 52-50 in the national semifinals of the NCAA tournament. The gym holds only 10,000 fans, so it was standing-room only.
About a half-hour before tip-off on Monday night, the lower bowl of Hinkle Fieldhouse was nearly filled with fans. Hundreds of fans were still filing in to watch tonight's game on four large projection TVs, which have been placed on both sides of the playing court.
"The atmosphere is the most fun," said Kyle Wernke, a junior from Fishers, Ind.
Wernke said he attended two classes on Monday, but apparently many Butler students skipped their classes.
"It was pretty crazy," Wernke said. "I was trying to drive around campus and you really couldn't go anywhere. People were out in the streets and partying and having an awesome time."
It figures to be one heck of a party here tonight, too, especially if the Bulldogs can upset the Blue Devils. The crowd cheered loudly when a local TV newscast broadcast stories about Hayward and Butler guard Ronald Nored. They even cheered when former NBA star Larry Bird and Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell were shown on the screens.
Surprisingly, the crowd didn't boo when Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was shown.
Just a few minutes ago, more than a few hundred jaws dropped when a local TV reporter announced tickets were being sold for as little as $20 outside Lucas Oil Stadium. In fact, one couple grabbed their bags and headed for the exits.