The best example of the passion of Kentucky basketball fans occurs every year on a Wednesday morning in late September.
Hundreds of Wildcats supporters line up on one side of Avenue of Champions before dawn, sprint across the street at 7 a.m. and set up tents for a three-day camp-out on the grass next to Memorial Coliseum.
The reward isn't courtside seats to a big game or a favorable number in a lottery for Final Four seats. All spending 72 hours bundled up in a tent does is earn fans choice tickets to Big Blue Madness, the school's annual Midnight Madness event that celebrates the start of basketball practice.
Considering that many prominent basketball schools don't even hold Midnight Madness out of fear there will be too many empty seats and it will look bad to recruits, the level of enthusiasm among Kentucky fans is all the more amazing. There were 425 tents as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, suggesting this will likely be the fourth consecutive year Big Blue Madness tickets sellout in less than an hour once they go on sale on Saturday morning.
There's plenty of reason for Kentucky supporters to be excited again this year even though the top six players from last year's national title team have since turned pro. Returner Kyle Wiltjer, NC State transfer Ryan Harrow and another decorated freshman class figure to have the Wildcats in contention for another SEC title and a third straight Final Four.
The players, of course, were impressed — even awed — by the dedication of their fans when they saw the tents set up Wednesday morning.
"BBN has got to has the best fans!!" tweeted freshman Alex Poythress. "I mean who else would camp out in the cold for tickets for a practice?!!"
Added fellow freshman Willie Cauley-Stein, "I have so much respect for Big Blue #toocoldtobecamping"
The person who deserves the most admiration? The poor guy trying to set up the yellow tent in the time-lapse video above. Anyone willing to spend a couple hours futilely trying to get his tent to stand up just for tickets to a glorified practice is definitely a devoted fan.
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