Sioux Falls, SD
March Madness is always on display this time of year at Buffalo Wild Wings. But when the Summit League sets up shop across the street, the fans there get even rowdier, especially when a home-grown team could win it all.
"It's the women's and the men's teams; expectations are pretty high and it should be good," fan Chad McKee said.
McKee was just one of the Jackrabbit fans gearing up at Buffalo Wild Wings before the women's game. He's also an alum who took the afternoon off to watch the games.
"Honestly, wherever it would be we'd follow, but it is nice to be close to Brookings and Sioux Falls," McKee said.
He isn't alone. Tournament games are nationally televised. South Dakota State University president David Chicoine says that gives the University and the state exposure they can't buy.
"I, and my colleagues, from State have been getting texts and emails from colleagues across the country because of the exposure. And that's great for Sioux Falls as well," Chicoine said.
Chicoine says the national sports spotlight sparks interest, but the school's academics, programs and opportunities seal the deal for students who may never have considered an SDSU education.
"Getting people on your front porch is really important if you want them to take a look at your house. And that's very exciting for us," Chicoine said.
But fans and alums know the exposure, and continued strong tournament showings, certainly can't hurt the Jackrabbits' chances at success.
" [It will] just draw more students, athletes, and just the exposure. Let them know how great a program it is, and what it can offer. I think it'll be a plus all around," McKee said.
And the highlight of this season for both teams may be just a win away.
Chicoine says the university's goal for its athletes is to have a great experience, not to go on to the NCAA tournament, but that's definitely a plus.