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Fans flock to Indianapolis for opening rounds of NCAA Tournament

March Madness returns to Indianapolis – News 8 at 10

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WISH) — For the first time since 2022, Indianapolis is hosting first and second rounds NCAA Tournament games.

The game between top-seeded Purdue and 16th-seeded Grambling State seemed like a home game for the Boilermakers. Purdue won 78-50. The Boilers will play Sunday against the winner of the Utah State-TCU game.

Crawfordsville resident Morgan Bohlander and her husband made the short trip to Gainbridge Fieldhouse and hoped to see Purdue redeem itself after a stunning loss to 16th-seeded Farleigh-Dickinson in the 2023 tourney.

“Coach Matt Painter actually said in many of his interviews, I think the first interview right after the loss last year to the 16 seed, that we go to sit in it, we got to own it and we got to deal with it, and I really feel like this year the Boilermakers have shown that they have done all those things,” Bohlander said.

Gainbridge was to host four first round games Friday, and will host two second round games Sunday.

The games drew fans from far and wide, including lifelong friends Bob Lesperance, a Colorado fan, and Mike Toffoli, a Florida Gator fan.

“He called me up and said, ‘It looks like Colorado is going to play Florida, and we haven’t seen each other in 10 years,’” Toffoli said.

Lesperance said, “I think God brought us together.”

According to Visit Indy Inc., Indianapolis has hosted more Final Fours than any other city in the modern era. The city will host the Final Four again in 2026.

“Basketball is where its at here in Indiana.” Bohlander said. “It makes sense whether it’s NBA All-Stars or the NCAA Tournament, whatever it is, that basketball events happen here in Indiana. It’s super fun for us being not that far away.”

Bicentennial Unity Plaza outside Gainbridge was hosting a free fan fest Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11 a.m.