CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WAVY) – The whole country got to see Wahoo Nation out in full force on Saturday morning. ESPN hosted “College GameDay,” its premeire college basketball preview show, from John Paul Jones arena for the first time, ahead of the Cavaliers’ primetime matchup with Duke.
Over 5,000 students and fans packed the arena, putting on a celebratory display for the 16 network cameras.”They killed it,” said Rece Davis, the show’s host since 2005, “We haven’t had a more enthusiastic, more clever, more energized crowd and it really gave great energy to the show. This was a blast.”
Jay Bilas, at one time a player for coach Mike Kyrzyzewski and the Blue Devils, garnered a few boos out of the all orange crowd. But that didn’t stop the longtime ESPN analyst from giving the Cavalier faithful a round of applause. “Kentucky was hard to beat because there were 22,000 people in there. That’s hard to beat,” he said, “but this was not second place to anywhere we’ve been.”
Those in the building and in the stands got one heck of a show. Aside from seeing three-time Naismith Player of the Year Ralph Sampson and current head coach Tony Bennett discuss tonight’s matchup, they watched a fourth-year drain a half-court shot worth $18,000 on live television.
“The crowd went wild,” said Tyler Lewis, who ran almost completely around the floor in celebration before calming down a little, “I didn’t even realize I was on national TV. I was just enjoying it and embracing the moment with the fans.”
Those same fans are hoping for just as much excitement when the Cavaliers (19-0, 7-0) and the Blue Devils (17-3, 4-3) meet at 7:00 pm.