Your guide to the Final Four, from someone who experienced the Elite Eight
With Auburn basketball making it to the Final Four for the first time in history, fans are ecstatic to head to Minneapolis to watch the Tigers take on the Virginia Cavaliers. It’s a long 18-hours from the Plains to the larger of the Twin Cities, but it can be filled with nonstop fun. Take it from someone who made the 12-hour drive to Kansas City to see the Elite Eight game.
The trip needs to be well planned out beforehand. While you’ve probably decided to make the trip last minute, there are a few things you can do to prepare. According to Google Maps, there are three routes to take; one will get you there as quickly as possible, but your other options include opportunities to stop in St. Louis or Chicago. Either of these would be a great way to turn that long drive into a multi-stop road trip.
Packing for the trip is just as important. I suggest wearing an obvious Auburn shirt; the Virginia fans will also be wearing orange, so navy might be the way to go to stand out in the crowd. Don’t forget that official Final Four merchandise will be expensive at the stadium and will sell out quickly so plan ahead. If you’re looking for the perfect outfit, you want to bring it from Auburn. Make sure to pack shakers as well, maybe enough to share with the casual fans sitting around you who’ve jumped on the Auburn bandwagon during the tournament. To pass the time, I suggest card games like Trivial Pursuit or Cards Against Humanity; just be sure to include the driver so they don’t resent taking the wheel.
We were greatly outnumbered during the Elite Eight, so come ready to cheer and wave your shaker. The first song any true Auburn fan needs to listen to on the drive is “We’ve Got Jared.” The song is a cover of the song “Sugar, Sugar” by Archies. Make sure to add it to your road trip playlist so you’ll know the words by the time you reach Minneapolis; the band played it several times and singing along is a must. The playlist “Road Trip Sing-Along Songs” on Spotify is the go to playlist for my jam sessions once you’re well versed in Auburn’s new unofficial theme song.
Once you get to Minneapolis, you’ll have some time to kill. You may not know that the Mall of America is nearby. Even if you’ve blown your budget on transportation and accommodations, there’s plenty to see at the largest mall in the country. Luckily, Minneapolis also has a lot of great restaurant and brewery options. If you’re looking to splurge because you’re living your best life, check out Mercy Bar and Dining Room. To stick to a student budget, the Red Cow North Loop might be a good choice. Wherever you end up, you’ll probably find a Juicy Lucy on the menu. A Juicy Lucy is a stuffed hamburger that many different restaurants have unique ideas of how to stuff. Cheese curds are last on my list, but if you’ve never had one, I would say you should try it at least once, despite the name. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Auburn basketball as much as possible, I would recommend going to a Hibachi restaurant before the game like the team has done before every game of this winning streak. You just might see Bruce and the boys there.
Be warned, if you try to order a Coke at the stadium, you’ll probably be misunderstood and referred to the “pop” options. Besides the drink menu, the stadium offers some unique options: meatballs on a stick, bubble waffles, wings and the list goes on.
When you finally make it to the game, be prepared to be surrounded by Virginia fans. Virginia is expectedly good season-after-season, so they have a wide fan base across the country. A lot of the Auburn supporters in attendance will be bandwagon fans that don’t know any of our cheers; be sure to greet them with a “War Eagle” and teach them our traditions. Maybe offer one of those extra shakers your brought and play “We’ve Got Jared” for them before tip-off.
No matter the outcome, if you’re committing to the trip to Minneapolis, you’ve shown yourself to be a major Auburn fan. Enjoy the weekend and be ready to get loud to support the team! You’ll be able to hear Bruce from the nosebleeds, so make sure he can hear you on the court, too.