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Let's Dance: The Slipper Still Fits for March Madness in DSM USA

March Madness in DSM

March 18, 2019

Warning: The following blog post is full of sports clichés and puns. That’s what you get when you let a former sports reporter write about sports.

Take a trip down memory lane with me to visit the ghosts of NCAA March Madness men’s basketball tournament past.

…Flash back to the 1999 NCAA tournament. 10-seeded Cinderella story Gonzaga makes an improbable run to the Elite Eight, prompting the iconic line from broadcaster Gus Johnson: “GONZAGA! The slipper stillllll fits!” (Search “Gus Johnson The Slipper Still Fits” on YouTube to fully appreciate this moment.)…

"The Runner"

…Now onto the 2010 Tournament. 9-seeded Northern Iowa takes on powerhouse and No. 1-seeded Kansas in the second round. With the Panther's clinging to a 1-point lead in the final minute, UNI's Ali Farokhmanesh throws caution to the wind and pulls up for a 3-pointer in transition. The world stops as the ball spins toward the hoop… and “swish.” Announcer Dan Bonner summed it up for all of us by yelling “You can’t be serious with that shot!”…

Farokhmanesh Seals Upset Win

…And a personal favorite. 2014, my beloved Cyclones take on North Carolina in a 2nd round game. DeAndre Kane hits the game-winning layup. A few minutes later, The Mayor Fred Hoiberg dances in the locker room, proving once and for all he is the coolest coach in America, even if his daughter didn’t think so. (You might say Fred brought new meaning to the tournament’s other nickname, the Big Dance.)…

Fred Hoidberg is #Swagberg

There are so many more moments I could have chosen. In the NCAA tournament, sometimes you see the greatness of a dominant team. Sometimes you see major upsets — David takes down Goliath. Smiles and jubilation. Tears and agony. It’s all there and it’s all beautiful.

And it’s coming to Greater Des Moines (DSM) again.

NCAA Tournament in DSM USA

On Thursday and Saturday, fans from across the country will file into Wells Fargo Arena at the Iowa Events Center to see their favorite teams try to survive and advance. Thousands of DSM residents will join them to enjoy world-class basketball. In fact, tickets are already sold out. It’s a great showing for our region, and the college basketball world has taken notice. A few weeks ago, national sports website The Athletic ranked the first round destinations. No surprise: We were #1.

This is another great example of DSM fighting above its weight. It took a lot of hard work to get the tournament here in 2016, and it speaks volumes that on the return trip people who cover the sport for a living are excited to come here.

As a basketball fan myself, I have been pinching myself that March Madness is coming back to my home. The NCAA tournament has always been a signal of spring, and a great reason to play hooky a couple afternoons. There was a great vibe here in 2016, and I can’t wait to experience that again.

There are so many things happening around the actual games. Even if you do not have tickets, you can check out the open practice day on Wednesday, March 20. When I went in 2016, it was surreal to get to watch traditional powerhouse programs like Kentucky and Connecticut run drills right in front of me. And if you want to watch the Hawkeyes and Cyclones, or any of the other games, in between sessions at Wells Fargo Arena, you can check out Hoops and Hops at Cowles Commons or the Fan Zone in Hy-Vee Hall, among many options. Chances are you’ll run into me somewhere. And make sure to wear blue (if you’re not wearing your team colors) on Thursday as we Paint the Town Blue!

If you are going to the games, maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to witness one of those special, unforgettable moments that make March Madness, well, madly entertaining. We may have been the Cinderella story when we first got the tourney, but In DSM’s case, the slipper does still fit. We are serious about this shot to again roll out the red carpet for a major event. Let’s dance.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a big city. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.

Kyle Oppenhuizen

Kyle Oppenhuizen is the Vice President of Communications at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. He previously wrote for the Des Moines Business Record and covered high school sports in Missouri, after working four years on the Iowa State Daily's sports desk as a student at Iowa State University. Kyle has been involved in the Young Professionals Connection and YP Iowa, is a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute's Community Leadership Program and attends as many Iowa State and Iowa Cubs games as he can.