How a small Michigan town became center court for NCAA in Detroit, Final Four

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DETROIT (FOX 2) - The drive from Amassa, Michigan to Little Caesar's Arena in Detroit will take you roughly eight hours. But from that small, unincorporated community came a flourishing business that may not be known the world over – but is definitely used across the country. And this weekend, it takes center stage in Detroit for the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

Zach Riberdy is the marketing director for Connor Sports and, a few years ago, the Amassa-based company struck a deal with the NCAA to make basketball courts for the tournament.

That's how maple trees from the U.P. are making their way to Detroit for the tournament.

"Now sending something to lower Michigan from upper Michigan, it’s crazy," Riberdy said.

It's a big moment for the basketball fan who has some connections to the madness that is March.

"My uncle who is a very polished and good division one college coach for a number of years. He was able to take the University of Washington to the Sweet 16. He was knocked out by Wally Szerbiack on a last second shot going to the Elite 8 so as a child. Now, I’m flying around the country, getting to be a part of stuff like this. I just got goosebumps right now thinking about it," Riberdy said.

The Michigan company has shipped around the world for basketball – and will now be center court at Little Caesars Arena.

On Monday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer stood on the floor as she championed the hardwood creators.

"It’s a town of 300 people, but this court can tell you we are doing cutting edge manufacturing in the smallest of towns in the most Northern part of Michigan. It is exciting to see this expertise out of a small town," Whitmer said.

She was one of the first to see the floor and joined several corporate leaders to see crews put the finishing touches on the court.

While tens of thousands of fans will watch in the arena, millions will watch worldwide. It's another opportunity for Michigan to showcase its contributions to sports and manufacturing.

"It’s so proud to have a Michigan company be apart of such a major event. It’s really special for us, and I think for the state in general," said Dave Beachnau from the Detroit Sports Commission.

Play at LCA starts on Friday with the Sweet 16. The Elite 8 will be played on Sunday ahead of the Final Four next week in Phoenix. And, just like the games in Detroit, the floor there will be made and shipped from the U.P.