VALPARAISO | Terry Larr shook two raised pompoms as members of the Valparaiso University Crusaders basketball team walked down the hall of the school's athletic center Tuesday morning.
The team was going to the Big Dance -- the NCAA tournament -- to take on No. 3 Michigan State on Thursday in Auburn Hills, Mich. Some 50 fans, staff and students, cheered the team as they boarded the bus for the four-hour trip. They yelled. They cheered. They waved signs.
"I've worked here for 17 years and I am so proud of our guys. They work so hard," said Larr, who works in the school's student accounts office.
It wasn't the first time Larr watched the team leave for the tournament.
"I was pretty new here at the first one, but this is more exciting," she said.
Retired professor Dot Neuchterlein was also excited. Not only a fan, Neuchterlein has been a scorekeeper for the team since the 1980s. She's leaving Wednesday to keep score and absorb the atmosphere of the tournament.
"The atmosphere here is great for our home games. At a national tournament, there is good support from everybody. It is just electric," she said.
"This is a great achievement for the guys. I hope they play their best, win or lose," Neuchterlein said.
Sam Adams works at VU's bookstore, where they are selling T-shirts "like crazy," he said.
On Tuesday, he wanted to wish the team well.
"They got a lot of talent on the team and I think they can do some damage to Michigan State," said Adams, adding, if he had a chance, he'd tell team to "have fun and just enjoy the moment."