COLUMBIA — Not even a winter weather advisory for Boone County could keep Tiger fans out of bars and restaurants around Columbia to watch the NCAA matchup between Missouri and the University of Connecticut.
Fans even watched the game outside on a tent-covered patio at Bengal's Bar and Grill. Scattered heaters were not enough to prevent them from being able to see their breath, but none seemed to mind as the wind whipped the walls of the tent — the game was too exciting.
As the game began, fans had faith Missouri could advance.
"If anybody has a chance, Mizzou has a chance," said Southside Pizza and Pub patron Derrick Hermann, who added that this season was the best by an MU Tigers basketball team he had seen during the 15 years he has lived in Columbia.
Hermann said he had also watched the games against Marquette University and the University of Memphis at Southside. He said that despite the inclement weather, the crowd was just as big on Saturday as it had been for the previous games.
Others expressed renewed interest in MU basketball after a season that took the Tigers to their first Elite Eight appearance since 2002.
Karl Ledbetter, who watched Saturday's game from the outdoor tent at Bengal's, said he did not follow the team as closely last year.
"After Athena, they were not in the right state of mind," Ledbetter said, referencing a fight outside Athena Night Club in early 2008 that led to the suspension of five players by coach Mike Anderson.
Saturday, Ledbetter said he liked the way Missouri was exploiting other teams' weaknesses and using them to win.
Bengal's patrons Heather Darr and Chris Backer also expressed excitement about Missouri's season. Backer said he thought Missouri would beat Memphis but was surprised by the 11-point victory.
While trying to stay warm under a patio heater, Bengal's patron Grant Heggie said it would be a "great night to go out" if Missouri won. But after the closing seconds of the game and Missouri's loss, Heggie admitted it might no longer be a good night to go out.
Simone Francis, who watched Saturday's game at TGI Friday's, just as she had on Thursday, said she was saddened by MU's loss.
"I'm disappointed, but we played well," she said. "So I'm still really proud. UConn didn't totally dominate."
Despite the loss, many fans remain enthusiastic about their team. "(This season) put Mizzou back on the map," Southside patron Doug Schewe said. "I'm proud to be a fan."