Fans play, attend rallies on Final Four eve

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Fans arriving in Minneapolis for Final Four weekend are being greeted with plenty to do.

Fan Fest at the Minneapolis Convention Center opened at 11 a.m. Friday morning and Tip-off Tailgate is happening along Nicollet Mall until 10 p.m. where there will be trivia, karaoke, a fan dance-off and live music.

Michigan State alumni will be holding a pep rally for fans Friday, which requires a ticket. It might be worth it, however, as Coach Tom Izzo, mascot Sparty and Vikings QB Kirk Cousins are all expected to speak and address the players.

Texas Tech fans are also driving and flying into town, with many Texas license plates visible around the Twin Cities. Some people said they couldn’t get a plane ticket, so they road tripped it instead.

The President of the Alumni Association at Texas Tech flew in late last night. He told FOX 9 the first trip to the Final Four will put his Red Raiders on the national stage in a whole new way.

“Wow, just a big wow,” said Curt Langford, the President and CEO of the Texas Tech Alumni Association. “It’s a new stage and an exciting time for me personally, but obviously the Red Raiders. The Texas Tech family is really excited.”

A big Texas Tech watch party is scheduled to take place at Brothers Bar in Minneapolis Saturday.

Michigan State fans are planning to gather at The Office.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Convention Center is packed with fans and fun Friday, too.

Fans of all four teams are out in full force, plus a bunch of other teams are well represented from the Golden Gophers to the University of Florida and more.

There are plenty of basketball courts sprawled out around the convention center that feature different contests on each.

One thing that stands out is how many families took in Friday’s events, including this family of Virginia fans from Boise, Idaho.

“Today is my birthday and this is the best birthday,” said Samia McCall.

“It’s cool to see my team out here,” added Maisa McCall. “It’s special.”

The Final Four isn’t just a family affair for fans, either. As Auburn Guard J’Von McCormick shows, having your mom there for championship weekend is important if you're playing, too. 

“She’s pretty upset she couldn’t make the SEC tournament, I told her I would get her out for this so it’s a big accomplishment. That’s my number one fan. It’s big for her to come out for the Final Four,” McCormick said.

“It’s awesome, I told him I’m following him and my first time here. It’s beautiful,” added Carol McCormick.  

Texas Tech and Virginia fans have been most noticeable walking around Minneapolis, but Auburn and Michigan State fans were sparser at the convention center Friday.