Even though tipoff for the 2016-17 college basketball season is just a few weeks away, some fans are not willing to wait that long for a taste of their team.
That’s sure the case for some Kentucky Wildcats fans who were camping out for a chance to get tickets to Big Blue Madness.
What’s Big Blue Madness you say?It’s Kentucky’s annual open practice event that gives fans a chance to see the men’s and women’s basketball teams ahead of the upcoming season. Practice drills, hype videos, player introductions and a myriad other activities dominate the evening.
Space for those looking to campout and buy tickets to Big Blue Madness reached a capacity of 375 tents on Friday, according to a release from the school. The campout began at 5 a.m. Wednesday and reached capacity by noon Friday.
Celebrities and former players are encouraged to attend the event as well. Some have made headlines with their attempts to join in the drills like Drake.
Tickets to the event, which are free of charge, were released at 10 p.m. on Friday. Fans who did not wait in line can also obtain them online for a nominal service fee. The event is scheduled for Oct. 14 at Rupp Arena (7:00 p.m.) and will be televised live on the SEC Network.
Space for the campout was a bit limited this year due to construction around Memorial Coliseum, the release said. Memorial Coliseum serves as the home for the Kentucky women's basketball, volleyball and gymnastics teams.
The construction around campus didn’t stop the Kentucky faithful from having a good time though, and a pair of fans even got hitched while waiting in line.
What is all the fuss about?
Well, for those that don’t know Big Blue Madness is part of a series of events around the country that serve as the de facto kickoff of college basketball season — albeit a few weeks before teams actually take the court.
Former Maryland Terrapins head coach Lefty Driesell is credited with ushering in the tradition in 1971, but Kentucky is certainly one of the schools that helped popularize the event.
Known colloquially as Midnight Madness, the tradition originates from teams holding open practices on the earliest day permitted by the NCAA. In 2013, a new rule established some extra flexibility about when team's could hold their respective event. Most teams still tend to hold their events on or around the Friday before Oct. 15.