SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The roar erupting from a team after seeing their name pop up on Selection Sunday is the sound of opportunity.
The day is the start of March Madness. Through the eyes of Manheim Central grad and Utah State forward Taylor Funk, unless you have an automatic bid, anything can happen.
"A couple of us saw some numbers where we're not a 100% lock. We were high 90s, but we were not that 100% lock," recalled Funk. "So we're kind of sitting there, looking around, asking each other, 'Are you nervous?' Yeah. It was so much fun just being there with your team, your brothers celebrating what we accomplished, what our goals were, and to be finally accomplishing them."
After playing four seasons at St. Joe's, Funk knew he had one more season left to be a part of the big dance. After entering the portal, he chose the Aggies, and a pocket of Utah State fans developed in Lancaster County.
"You know, they're just happy. I talked to my coach at Manheim Central Coach Sherwood, yesterday. He's just so happy. All the eyes are on, they tune in. I know it's late for them especially when we were in Vegas. There were a couple of games where my family and friends were up to 2:30, 3 a.m., you know, watching the Aggies," said Funk.
The former Baron knows this time of year can create lasting memories.
"My favorite part growing up was probably that shot by Villanova," said Funk. "That was, that was just every hooper's dream. To have a moment like that. That one just really sticks out to me."
For the teams in the tourney, it's all about who best handles the balance of soaking in the experience and executing on the hardwood.
"Enjoying it, for sure. Anxious, for sure. As hard as it is, you have to try and treat this like another game," explained Funk. "If you do that, I feel like you just have to go out there and be yourself and we're at this moment right now, because we were ourselves all season."
Funk and Utah State will open the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament with a first-round game against Mizzou in Sacramento, California.