Hundreds of students lined up outside the Crisler Center to watch Michigan play in the national championship game. (Courtesy: David Jesse/Detroit Free Press)
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WZZM) -- Several hundred Michigan fans lined up in front of the Crisler Center tonight didn't need much encouragement to break into cheers of "Go Blue," "Let's Go Blue" and even an occasional performance of "The Victors."
The fans were waiting to get inside the arena to watch on the big screen as their basketball team tries for its first national championship since 1989.
"I was in college when they won then," said Mark Coleman of Holt. "That was so much fun. I had to come back and watch this here tonight."
Doors are set to open at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free for students, staff and faculty with their "M" card. The general public can buy tickets for $5.
The crowd was mostly students, although community members also came out. Starting about 6 p.m., a steady stream of fans joined the line, which streched across a plaza and then folded back around the building.
In addition to the crowd waiting outside Crisler, restaurants and bars in Ann Arbor were beginning to fill up as fans tried to get tables with the best views of televisions.
Police were ready for the party, both during the game and after. Both Ann Arbor and university police plan to have a heavy presence around town to try to deter chaos.
Nearly all in attendance at Crisler had at least one piece of Michigan gear on, including a fan wearing Wolverine claws. "It's going to be a huge party all night," said Lance Rolston, 21, a junior from Farmington. "I've been waiting since Saturday night for this. I can't wait for the game to start."
By David Jesse, Detroit Free Press education writer