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'That's how we do it in Memphis': On St. Patrick's day, Memphians were wearing Tiger blue

Fans at Brookhaven Pub & Grill break into chants after the Tigers took down Boise State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

With St. Patrick's Day and the first round of the NCAA tournament falling on the same day, Brookhaven Pub & Grill was not flooded with the usual green.

Instead, Tiger fans flocked to the site of University of Memphis basketball head coach Penny Hardaway's radio show – forming a blue mob over the bar's patio and interior. Cars lined Brookhaven Circle and filled surrounding parking lots with Memphians searching for a place to watch the Tigers' first tournament game since 2014.

"It's just electric," said U of M junior Zach Lucchesi. "I was a middle schooler the last time we were here, so this just feels more electric than last time."

Lucchesi, along with five of his friends packed into a table at Brookhaven – but most of them are not skipping class. Although not formally canceled by the university, some professors opted to give students the day off.

But some professors did not cancel, which is why Jordan Tincher – a U of M senior and dedicated Tiger fan –  opted to skip class anyway. Tincher followed the Tigers to Fort Worth, Texas, for the AAC tournament and had planned to fly to Portland, Oregon,  but plane tickets were too expensive.

So Tincher found himself among the Tiger blue crowd and put his voice into the synchronous cheers, boos and groans that could be heard from the street. Those boos may have peaked with Emoni Bates' entry to the game. 

After missing the previous 14 games with a back injury, resulting in him not traveling to the AAC tournament, Bates could be seen sitting at the scorer's table – about to join the game. Although the majority of the crowd had booed, scattered cheers and clapping could be heard for the freshman.

But Bates soon had them on all on their feet after hitting his first basket in almost three months.

"My face was white, but then I told my friend Emoni's back," said David Price, the Tigers' equipment manager. "Now that he's back and healthy, nobody can say anything about him."

Brookhaven is not the only location hosting a watch party, though. Grind City Brewing Co. mixed its St. Patrick's Day celebration with a celebration of all things March Madness.

Among those fans were Kendal Dunaway and Demi Jacques, 2016 and 2012 graduates from the U of M and employees at Colliers, a commercial real estate firm.

"It's fun seeing [the Tigers] back in action," Dunaway said. "We worked this morning and were looking for a way to get out of the office and decided to do a St. Patrick's thing. It also doubles as a Memphis watch party, which makes it even better."

Both locations had employees serving customers and fans overwhelmingly wearing blue. 

"It's definitely different [seeing all of the blue on St. Patrick's day], but we bleed tiger blue here. That's how we do it in Memphis and Brookhaven," said Katie Keough, a manager at Brookhaven Pub.

And, in the waning minutes of their first tournament appearance in eight years, Tiger fans at Brookhaven broke out into chants, cheers and hollers as the U of M took down Boise State.

Fans at Brookhaven Pub & Grill break into chants after the Tigers took down Boise State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament

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