WILKES-BARRE — The NCAA tournament officially kicked off Wednesday, and residents of the Wyoming Valley hit local bars to enjoy the first full day of the “best spectacle in sports.”
A handful of people, who were done shoveling out from the winter storm, headed to Senunas’ Bar & Grill on North Main Street to take in the first game of many in the three-week tournament.
Phil Garveo, of Bernardsville, N.J., was watching the Bucknell versus West Virginia game.
“March Madness is better than the NBA,” Garveo said.
The King’s College student was “hanging out” with friends while watching the game.
“It’s all about having fun,” he said.
Tyler Broo, of Manahawkin, N.J., was also taking some time in his day to watch the game.
“I’ve been watching basketball since I was a little kid,” Broo said.
Broo said he “definitely wanted West Virginia” to win, and win they did. In Buffalo, N.Y., West Virginia beat the central Pennsylvania team 86 to 80 in their 2:54 p.m. game.
While neither Broo nor Garveo had a team in the game that was on television, both said they do try their hands at picking the perfect bracket.
“I only do it with family,” Broo cautioned.
Broo hopes the other Pennsylvania team, the Villanova Wildcats, take home the crown for the second consecutive year. Garveo hopes a West Coast team, UCLA, takes home the national title.
At CrisNics, on Barney Street, the bar room was full with watchers of the game.
Several weren’t interested in the games themselves, but were interested in the fellowship that came with the game.
“We’re all Tar Heel fans,” Connie Ocwa said. Several patrons egged her on, chanting Duke, during the Times Leader interview, but she kept steady. “We don’t say the word ‘Duke’ around here.”
Former President Barack Obama feels the same way Ocwa does. In his bracket, he has University of North Carolina beating Duke, ESPN.com reports.
Besides the NCAA tournament, Ocwa said having cabin fever as well as being regular patrons contributed to their attendance at the bar.
Though her beloved North Carolina team wasn’t on until 4 p.m. Friday, Ocwa said she just “wanted her Tar Heels to do good.”
Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko.