Harrison Chen attended his first NCAA basketball tournament when the Northwestern Wildcats attended theirs.

When the ‘Cats made March Madness for the first time in school history, in 2017, Harrison Chen was at the game in Salt Lake City.

He was ten months old.

Fast forward to Thursday night. The Wildcats were back in the Field of 68, and Harrison Chen, now a bit older, was back as well, along with his four-year-old sister Evie, and their parents, George and Sherry Chen.

Only this time, with the game in far-away Sacramento, the Chens attended a TV watch party at the Norris Center on Northwestern’s campus.

The 7th seeded Wildcats defeated 10th seed Boise State, 75-67, and advanced to the next round, also in the same California city.

“If [Sacramento] was driveable, we’d have been there,” said Sherry.

Sherry and George are rabid Wildcat fans. George has both an undergraduate and graduate degree from NU, Sherry is a former employee.

As for bringing Harrison to a game when he was just a baby, “you’ve gotta teach ’em young,” said George.

The Chens were among about 40 Northwestern alumni, staff, and students at the Norris Center party. (Several bars in town also had game-watching gatherings).

Debra Blade, assistant program director at Norris, is a NU alum who also worked at Norris for the last NCAA watch party, in 2017.

“I’m a big fan,” she said, while setting up a table of snacks and prize giveaways for those at this year’s event.

One of the fans was NU sophomore Emran Majidy, who hardly followed basketball at all while growing up in London, England.

This year, however, Majidy said he “went to every game.”

Majidy started going because it was just “something to do.”

“But then, surprisingly, they were good,” he said of the ‘Cats.

“So I kept following them.”

Chloe Chow, a junior dual majoring in religous studies and classics, finshed her exams a few hours ago, and came over to Norris early, “just waiting for the game to start.”

She was not disappointed.

The Wildcat victory sent the fans home happy, and looking forward to Saturday’s next round against 2nd seed UCLA.

If the ‘Cats can somehow upset the basketball-blue-blood-Bruins, it would then be on to Las Vegas for the next round, next week.

If that happens, the Chens will be there, in person.

“Every year he has high hopes for them,” Sherry said about her husband.

This year, those hopes finally paid off.

“Yes, absolutely,” said George, who was, along with most other fans, was “surpised they were this good.”

Plus, there is a big advantage to attending a March Madness game in person.

You don’t have to figure out where truTV is on your cable system or streaming service.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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