JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - The hype surrounding the ETSU basketball teams this year are sky high, as both the men's and women's teams are set to tip off their 2017-2018 seasons on Friday. As Freedom Hall begins to fill up with the sounds of basketball, the excitement of the Bucs crowd is spilling out into the streets.
"You can see everyone wearing their ETSU merchandise and gear around town," Justin Young, a Bucs fan, says.
The men's team is coming off its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2010, and everyone wants to see what head coach Steve Forbes has in store for an encore.
"I think we're going to win and I think we're going to the big dance," David Close, a season ticket holder of 40 years, says.
More and more people are starting to hop on the bandwagon Close has been on for decades now. According to ETSU's Ticketing website, the top four season ticket packages are already sold out.
The city of Johnson City also loves the Bucs' basketball programs because fans from all over come to games and put money into the local economy.
"The community is winning from the standpoint of visitors coming in and spending their money and from the locals going out going to restaurants and spending their money as well," Brenda Whitson with the Johnson City Visitors Bureau says.
One of the businesses that benefit from the Bucs are Fanatics 101 in the mall. They say no matter how much ETSU gear the stock up with, it's never enough.
"There were several racks full of it when we first got it in and its dwindled down, but it's been tough to keep up with the demand for sure," Nate Cox, an employee at Fanatics 101, says.
When the Bucs are ballin', it's a slam dunk for everyone.
"They provide year-round economic benefit for the hospitality industry," Whitson says.
The men's team opens up their season on the road Friday night at Northern Kentucky. The women's team hosts Cincinnati at Brooks Gym on Friday night as well.
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