The hotel lobbies and restaurants that were so packed and spirited since Thursday emptied today. Playing host to the Final Four might be one of the biggest events in this community's history. But this, after all, is Sunday. And Fayette County, dry as it is, rested.

At 2 o'clock this morning, Georgetown fans drove the streets of Lexington chanting various rhymes. Maybe 100 Villanova fans stood in the outer lobby of the Hyatt Hotel and screamed the school colors, "Blue-White" at each other sporadically.

In so many ways, the scene here is typical of the Final Four. Basketball fans have driven from all over the country, many without tickets or much hope of securing them with scalpers asking up to $250 for a single pass.

But in many other ways, this is unique.

For starters, there are no liquor sales in Kentucky on Sunday. The only two places people can buy alcholic drinks in restaurants are in Louisville, about 70 miles away, and even further away in northern Kentucky.

There is one major exception. Only 29 miles away in the state capitol of Frankfort, the Capitol Plaza Hotel had the foresight not only to get a special convention center liquor permit, but the good sense to send buses to Lexington for those thirsty enough to make the trip.

By nightfall tonight, there didn't seem to be 10 people in the entire city. Some obviously were at the dozens of parties being thrown on the outskirts of town, and at these events Kentucky bourbon was plentiful.

The whole atmosphere this past weekend was a little wacky. Thousands of Yankees -- from St. John's, Villanova and Georgetown (yes, they consider Washington, D.C., the Nawth) descended upon a city that has been absolutely desperate to show off its hospitality.

One local newspaper columnist said he felt that Kentuckians are tired of hearing their state is near last in education, economy and roads services. What they care about, perhaps more than anything except horses, is basketball. And having the Final Four is a chance for them to rear up on their hind legs and beat their chests with pride.

As one local said today, "Somebody thought we were good enough that we could handle the Final Four."

Lexington and Fayette County, with a population of approximately 210,000, is said to be the smallest community to play host to the Final Four.

None of the previous hosts, however, could beat this area of its enthusiasm for basketball. As a phenomenon, University of Kentucky basketball is second only to church here. And if the Wildcats are playing on Sunday, Baptist congregations let out early.

The Final Four is an extension of that. There seem to be infinitely more ticket-seekers here than last year in Seattle or the year before in Albuquerque.

Just before Saturday's semifinal, one man stood in the rain, just in front of 23,000-seat Rupp Arena and advertised, "FIRST BORN FOR TWO NCAA TICKETS."