Fans Enjoy NCAA Practice Day At Auburn Hills

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It was the calm before the storm at The Palace of Auburn Hills for fans who can't make it to the games and for fans who can't wait for the games.

Hundreds of people took the opportunity to see their favorite teams up close and personal at no charge. Players had 40-minute practices open to the public, and that means both Spartans and Wolverines were sitting court side.

"I can't afford the tickets, but I want to come out here and watch what they can do," MSU Fan Zack Stevens said. "They're all out here laying it on the line. It's exciting to see them just play their hearts out."

Stevens set his differences aside to watch practice with his Wolverine friend, Thomas Fitz, who both traveled from Lansing.

"We get a little heated now and then," Fitz said. "I've never been this close at a game or anything like that. So being right on the court, court side right at their level will be cool."

That's exactly why a lot of people spent the day at the Palace, like 6-year-old Ben Schadel who's never had a front row seat before.

"I want to see them shoot three-pointers, get their best guys out and slam dunks," Schadel said.

Ben spent his day off from school with his dad and grandpa, two proud Spartan alums who said even though they might not make it to the game, this experience was worth it.

"It's just a really neat thing to be able to come down here, and spend the day together and watch a bunch of really good teams practice," Ben's dad Rob Schadel said.

Rob Schadel, Sr., graduated from MSU in 1966 and said he can't wait to have another generation attend MSU.

"To have my son, a graduate, and my future graduate, my best buddy. It's a lot of fun," Schadel, Sr., said. "The whole family is basically green and white."

Spartan or Wolverine, most people agree this is a win for the Big 10. The Palace hopes the teams will get along once the games begin.

"We welcome all guests at the Palace of Auburn Hills," Guest Services Employee Michael Robinson said. "We love to have everybody, and we try to make them all feel at home."

Robinson actually graduated from MSU in 1970, and now he gets the best seat in the house: watching over Section 117 as his Spartans take on the Valparaiso Crusaders.

"I was in the marching band at Michigan State for three years, and I still bleed green," Robinson said. "To see my alma mater here and the Spartan athletes and students, is very very exciting for me. I think it's a real blessing."

Robinson said he'll keep his cheering low-key, but he might sport a "block S" pin on his lanyard.

"It's a dream of a lifetime," Robinson said.

Many people are still hoping to get tickets. MSU plays at 12:15 on Thursday.

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