College basketball fans, rejoice! It's tipoff time in the Inland Northwest.
It's been almost two weeks since the Gonzaga Bulldogs dismantled Northwest Nazarene in their lone exhibition game and the same is expected Friday night against Southern Utah in both teams' regular season opener.
But don't count the Thunderbirds out just yet. It was just last year that, in the first game of the season, another Big Sky conference team -- Eastern Washington -- gave the Bulldogs everything they could handle before eventually falling 77-69.
The 21st ranked Bulldogs and the Thunderbirds, who are playing under first year head coach Nick Robinson, tip off Friday at 6.
Nothing keeps die-hard Zags fans away from their team. Not cold, not snow, not even the fact this is a non-conference game they're likely to win big. For many Gonzaga students, nights like this are what college is all about.
The doors opened at 4:30 p.m., much to the relief of more than a hundred students who were standing outside in the cold for hours, wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags, anxiously waiting for the first game of the season.
One group of freshmen were the first in line, setting up their chairs at 1 a.m. so they could get the best seats in the house. These students wanted to make their first game in the McCarthey Athletic Center a memorable one.
"I'm really pumped, I don't know, I don't even really know. It's just awesome," student Paul Morrisroe said.
"We did some vocal warm ups, we're going to do some more later, get the pipes ready, maybe stretch out a bit for our jumping so we don't pull anything, just like the athletes we need to be prepared as fans," student Will Badenhausen said.