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Buffalo hits a slam dunk during NCAA tourney

The 2017 NCAA Tournament’s run in Buffalo has ended, but during those three days and six games, there was no shortage of madness.

Coming out of Buffalo and going onto the Sweet 16 is No. 4 seed West Virginia, which defeated No. 5 seed Notre Dame somewhat handily on Saturday afternoon, 83-71. "Press" Virginia lived up to its name, forcing 14 turnovers out of the Irish.

However, the shocker of the weekend came in the later game of the afternoon. No. 8 seed Wisconsin took down No. 1 overall seed of the tournament and defending champions Villanova, 65-62, in a thriller. The Wildcats, who were heavy favorites, could not live up to the hype, as a Nigel Hayes reverse layup late in the game proved to be the dagger.

With big wins for both Wisconsin and West Virginia, the City of Buffalo also came out of the weekend with a victory.

Since the last time NCAA Tournament’s first- and second-round games took place in Buffalo in 2014, the city’s downtown area has improved massively. Four new hotels and more than two dozen new restaurants, breweries and distilleries line the streets of downtown Buffalo three years later.

With fans coming from all over the country, the total attendance on Saturday of 19,261 was the fifth largest for a basketball game in the history of KeyBank Center (dating back to the building’s first basketball game).

The city put its best foot forward to welcome fans traveling from as far as Wisconsin and Virginia to support their teams, as well as players, coaches and NCAA staff members, and the tournament generated an estimated $8 million for the local economy.

According to Visit Buffalo Niagara’s Brian Hayden, nearly 100 volunteers from VBN were on the streets answering questions, helping to fill visitors in on nearby restaurants as well as other handy information about the area.

VBN’s social media team answered questions from out-of-towners had on Twitter through the #hoopsBUF hash tag, and provided real-time parking and restaurant updates on game days.

In between game sessions, VBN also partnered with local restaurants downtown, including Pearl Street Bar and Grill, Osteria 166, Soho Burger Bar and Pizza Plant at One Canalside to surprise tables filled with out-of- towners with free meals. VBN coordinated with the wait staff to pull this feat off.

Thanks to all the hard work, the city received many positive reviews from visitors both from word of mouth and social media.

Later on this year, the IIHF World Junior Championship returns to Buffalo, having last taken place here in 2011. This time around, the tournament will be making history, as the first outdoor game in World Juniors history will be played at New Era Field, between the United States and Canada. Games will also be played at KeyBank Center and HarborCenter.

This time however, the city will have to yet again step up its game, as it will be not only getting fans from around the country, but from around the world, with the likes of Russia and Belarus playing in the tournament.

As the downtown Buffalo area continues to develop, one can only assume that the city will be looked at even more as a destination for premier sporting events.

Adam Gorski is a junior at Cardinal O’Hara High School.

 

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