Nick Littrell is a senior at Indiana University, but Butler is his college basketball team.

The former Columbus North player grew up going to games at Butler, where his father Jody had played. Nick and his mother (and Jody’s wife) Kim were among a wave of fans catching first-round NCAA Tournament games Friday afternoon at Buffalo Wild Wings on Jonathan Moore Pike.

“We just kind of wanted the atmosphere,” said Kim Littrell, a Butler graduate. “We wanted to be around everyone cheering the team on.”

Last year, the Littrells went to the NCAA first and second rounds in Milwaukee. Friday, Kim and Nick texted updates to Jody, who is in southwest Indiana for a Fishers of Men fishing tournament on Patoka Lake.

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The Littrells were able to watch a Butler victory. The Bulldogs led Arkansas 21-2 early, then fell behind late in the first half before recovering for a 79-62 victory.

“Making the first four 3s was awesome, and all that good defense early on, but missing the next three or four (3-pointers) and not being able to make a layup, we just struggled,” Nick Littrell said.

The Bulldogs will face a familiar opponent in Sunday’s second round in Detroit. Purdue routed Cal State Fullerton 74-48 prior to the Butler game to set up a rematch of a December game won by the Boilermakers.

But it wasn’t easy for Purdue. The Boilers led by only two points late in the first half and nine at halftime before pulling away in the final 20 minutes.

“They’re up and down,” said Purdue grad and Columbus resident Jamie Hoffman said. “It’s like a roller coaster with this team. They’re just not consistent.”

Hoffman, who grew up in Columbus and attended Columbus North before heading to Purdue, has football season tickets. She named her son Drew after former Boiler standout and current New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Hoffman also went to several Purdue basketball games and plans to get basketball season tickets next year. But Friday, she and her mother watched the game at BW3.

“It’s just kind of fun to get out and watch it with other Boliermaker fans,” Hoffman said.

That’s also the way Jake Meek felt. The Columbus resident was there watching the game with his former roommate at Purdue, Kyle Barlow.

Meek said the first Purdue game he ever watched was on a 13-inch, black-and-white TV, and ever since then, I’ve been watching the Boilermakers.

“The Purdue fans are good basketball fans,” Meek said. “I’ve had an opportunity to travel and live other places, and especially here in Indiana, there are just really good basketball fans. They understand and know the game. It’s nice to be around them and watch the games.”

With Bartholomew County high schools on spring break this week, students didn’t have to worry about skipping school to catch the games. Senior Marquis Green, a member of Columbus East’s Class 5A state championship football team, was at BW3 to watch Butler.

But Green wasn’t upset that Purdue also won.

“I grew up in Indy, so I’ve never really rooted for IU or Purdue,” Green said. “It’s always been Butler. But if anybody from Indiana wins, I’ll be satisfied.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.