Seeing the Hoosiers in Person is worth the trip

I hadn't seen a game in Assembly Hall since I was a student, many years ago. One word that sums up the experience of watching the Hoosiers defeat Ohio State -- Wow!

Indiana University students cheer during the first half of the Indiana versus Maryland men's
Indiana University students cheer during the first half of the Indiana versus Maryland men's / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY
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We all know that nothing holds your attention quite like watching Indiana University basketball. Sitting in your favorite recliner, maybe with a snack and a beverage, and seeing how the game unfolds on your flat screen is always something to look forward to with great anticipation.

However, nothing is quite like watching the Hoosiers in person, and I say that as someone who finally got to experience that rush of joy and excitement for the first time in years.

My wife, Nancy, bought us tickets to Saturday night's men's game vs. Ohio State as a Christmas present for me. We drove roughly 4 hours to Bloomington and settled in our hotel before heading out for dinner and our excursion to Assembly Hall.

Our seats were pretty high up, but not in the crow's nest section at the top. Equally committed Hoosiers fans surrounded us, so I felt right at home.

An alumni band played spirited songs as the players warmed up. Selections included stirring renditions of Green Day's "Basket Case" and Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle."

As game time neared, the beloved video of Martha the Mop Lady singing "Indiana, Our Indiana" as she cleaned the floor, brought us to our feet as it played on the giant scoreboard screen overhanging the center of the court.

The band launched into "Indiana, Our Indiana" several more times during timeouts, bringing tears to my eyes as I tried to sing along -- and memories came rushing back of my time on this beautiful campus.

The Hoosiers prevailed after fighting back from a couple of scary deficits, with the crowd willing our guys to victory with thunderous cheers (and thunderous boos when the officials made wrong calls, in our view.)

Just a couple of game observations: When you grab a rebound, anticipate that someone from the other team will try to knock the ball out of your hands. And when you leave your man to help defend another player, the ball inevitably will find its way back to your man for a wide-open 15-footer.

Yes, there are costs involved in buying tickets, a parking pass, and possibly a hotel room (this game ended after 10 p.m., and we don't live close by).

But whenever you have a chance to see a game in Assembly Hall, your owe it to yourself to do it. Take it from someone who hadn't done it since Jimmy Carter was president -- it's a thrill that fills your soul and gives you memories that will last the rest of your days.