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Lifelong UConn fan visits Syracuse on his journey to every college basketball venue

College basketball super fan Dan Nardini visited the Carrier Dome for Syracuse’s game against Wake Forest

Daniel Nardini, 61, of Connecticut grew up a big UConn basketball fan. He’s attended UConn games that predate The Big East and of course, attended games through the conference’s and UConn’s simultaneous rise.

Over the years, this fostered Nardini’s love for college basketball. It lead to his more recent mission to attend every college basketball arena in the country. He even started a blog,, which he updates regularly after every game he attends in-person.

Nardini recently visited Syracuse for the Orange’s win over Wake Forrest inside the Carrier Dome. He witnessed Brycen Goodine’s game-winner and wrote about his experience on his site, which included a fascinating Taco Time anecdote.

We recently caught up with Nardini about that experience. That conversation is listed below, lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Nunes Magician: You grew up a UConn fan. Why is that? Was that your introduction to college basketball?

Dan Nardini: I was born and raised in Connecticut and have never lived anywhere else. My Dad and I used to watch UConn on the local TV station play in the old Yankee Conference with opponents like New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island. I have programs from games I attended starting in 1968. Because Connecticut does not have any major professional teams, residents flock to UConn basketball as the only game in town. I do remember watching the famous UCLA vs. Houston game on TV in 1968 now billed as the “Game of the Century”.

NM: With 353 teams now in Division I men’s hoops, will you still get to all 353?

DN: I am 61 years old so the odds are stacked against me since I average about 16 games a year. With three new teams next year, the number goes up to 356. That being said, I will continue towards my goal ‘till I can’t do it anymore. Who knows what the state of college basketball will be in 10 or 20 years from now? I enjoy my journey one game at a time.

NM: Are you aware of anyone who has ever attempted to do this?

DN: There are others far ahead of me. My only edge is that I do more promoting the blog and my journey on social media. I don’t make any money on these side ventures but I always find a curious audience when discussing my mission.

NM: How do you go about planning and traveling to games?

DN: I have done the easy games within driving distance of CT. So, it is imperative that a trip include at least two games in the same geographical area since I am now using planes and trains. There is a map on Wikipedia of all the Division 1 college basketball cities so that gives an idea of what schools are close together. I tend to favor games where I can work towards completing all the schools in a state as I did in New York this year. When the schedules start coming out in fall, I look for schools in the same area playing back to back or on the same day games. I try to keep the cold weather schools in November or March when possible to eliminate blizzard driving. Once I pick the games, I use the Stadium Journeys site to get information about the arena, parking and the neighborhood especially fan spots to eat.

It should be said that I have an angel of a wife that lets me do this trip. I do try to keep the trips to no more than 3 days and no more than 16 games a year to ease the load on her. She is not a fan of sports but we do a couple of games a year at a touristy spot that includes shopping and beach time. This year, it was Florida Gulf Coast and South Florida in January.

NM: How many schools have you visited to date? Any favorites

DN: I will complete 96 games at the end of this season. My favorite so far was the Palestra in Philadelphia. Known as the “Cathedral of College Basketball,” you can spend the entire game walking around the outside perimeter of the hallways and see a museum of college basketball. The arena at Princeton comes to mind. Here you have an IVY league school that has an arena looking like Space Mountain in Disney World.

NM: I’d be remiss not to ask about your trip to my alma mater, Marist. What did you think of campus and McCann Arena?

DN: Wow that was back in 2015. I remember Iona completely blowing out Marist that night.

(Ed. note - that sounds about right.)

I did visit the FDR site and was very impressed with the architecture of the campus buildings. I do remember parking far away and having to take a shuttle to the arena. I chose to walk the 15 minutes and get a glimpse of the campus.

NM: Okay, so you went to the Syracuse vs. Wake Forest game on Feb. 8. Why that game?

DN: This was a nirvana moment for me in that Colgate had a 2 pm game and Syracuse had an 8 pm game on the same day. To get two games on one day is very rare and was the reason I went to upstate New York in January. The two schools also completed in New York in my journey including the five boroughs in New York City.

The vantage point from Nardini’s seat against Wake.

NM: What were your first impressions of the Carrier Dome?

DN: It was bright and it was huge. I had a difficult time finding my seat because it was in section 123. The signs in the halls were for football games so it was not evident that section 123 was in the grandstand. I eventually asked for help, which guys hate to do. As I said in the blog, I always envisioned the Dome in an open field surrounded by huge parking lots. I was surprised to see it surrounded by the campus buildings.

NM: Can you inform our readers of the Taco Time guy and what he was trying to do?

DN: Because the ‘Cuse had scored over 70 points, fans could get a free taco with the stub. I hung around a little bit to let some of the crowd go before taking some last-minute pictures. As I was walking out, a guy was going up and down each aisle looking for stubs. He had a wad in his hand. I was thinking, “How many tacos could one man eat?” I then heard him tell his friend that he hands them out to his “homeless clients”. That is an act that should be emulated throughout all the arenas in college basketball. I did not catch his name and do not remember what he looked like other than he was elderly.

NM: Did you get to do anything else while you were in the Syracuse area?

DN: Unfortunately, no. I had a 4-hour drive to Colgate followed by an hour ride to my hotel and the Dome. The area had a foot of snow on Friday which made for slow driving the entire trip. I headed back to Connecticut first thing on Sunday morning.

NM: Wrapping up, what do you make of the current state of UConn basketball and the program’s return to The Big East?

DN: I was in favor of the move to the Big East. Traveling to Texas, Oklahoma and Florida incurred some serious travel costs although I guess Syracuse has a similar problem with the ACC. I was a fan of all the Big East rivalries with Providence, Georgetown and Villanova. I honestly believe that we should be in the ACC but the Big East will do. It is interesting that folks lamented the plight of UConn football going as an independent. As it turns out, we have scheduled some major P5 opponents netting more money than we did in the AAC. Of course, the highlight of the basketball season as it was in years past will be Big East Tournament at MSG. I also believe that the program is in good hands with Dan Hurley, the coach every opposing fan loves to hate.

NM: Do you have any favorite UConn vs. Syracuse memories from over the years?

DN: I would not call it my favorite but I was at the 6 OT game in the Big East Tournament. Oh it hurt like hell but in the end I felt privileged to see that game in person.

NM: Anything else you want people to know? How can folks follow your journey?

DN: Folks can follow me at I post an update to the blog on Twitter (@Greathusky) and Redditt (Operation351). I write a post about every game but do not expect a game analysis but more an observation from a fan looking for the different viewpoint and oddities on my journey. I feel blessed to be on this mission and hope that your readers can do the same someday.