Darius Rucker has been in Las Vegas preparing for the 2017 ACM Awards, but before the show, he's got some other important business to attend to. Rucker is planning to fly to Phoenix on Saturday (April 1) to catch his alma mater South Carolina Gamecocks in a NCAA playoff game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Taste of Country caught up with Rucker in the run-up to the awards in Vegas and asked the country star about a video that went viral after the Gamecocks made their first-ever Final Four last Saturday (March 26) in an upset victory over the Florida Gators. The camera caught Rucker smiling and teary-eyed.

"I was just happy for the team, happy for the school. Happy for my boy, happy for the coach, and got a little overwhelmed," Rucker says, adding that Coach Frank Martin "is a really good friend."

Rucker began his career with Hootie and the Blowfish while attending the University of South Carolina, and he still has deep ties to the school. He's been following the games so closely that he recently had a monitor set up by his speakers at a performance so he and his band could keep track of the game while playing a gig, something he says is unusual.

"That was the first time we've ever done that," he admits with a laugh. "But we couldn't miss the game. We were playing Baylor, and we just couldn't miss that."

Rucker is so committed to seeing his boys play that he intends to travel from Las Vegas to Phoenix on Saturday in time to make the game, then turn right back around and return to Vegas for the ACM Awards.

"That's the plan, absolutely," he says. "I hope it works out that way. That'll make me real happy."

The 2017 ACM Awards are set to air live from Vegas on Sunday night (April 2) at 8PM ET on CBS.

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