Since Wichita State’s first appearance in the NCAA men’s basketball Tournament 50 years ago, this is the first time that the Shockers, Kansas and Kansas State are at the same site — all three teams will be in action Friday at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. And fans who planned early are getting the most bang for their buck.
Since KU contended for a No. 1 seed before settling for a No. 2 seed, Jayhawks fans like Phillip Brown of Elm, Mo., gambled on St. Louis as KU’s destination. It paid off.
“We bought tickets months ago,” said Brown. “That’s what we were hoping for and we bought tickets for next week also.”
Brown will only use tickets if the Jayhawks win both games this weekend: Friday against Eastern Kentucky, then on Sunday against either Stanford or New Mexico. The Jayhawks would then move on to Memphis, Tenn., in the South regional. Brown rolled the dice on that site, too.
Meanwhile, Wichita State, by winning the Missouri Valley Conference tournament two weeks ago, brought its undefeated record into the NCAA tournament. Curtis Kyle of Norwich, Kan., had faith in his team and also booked his hotel stay in advance.
“We went ahead and bought our tickets shortly before that because we knew that if they won the Valley they would make it. We didn’t have to worry about scalping tickets and stuff like that,” said Kyle.
“It was spring break. We brought the whole family up here, so we figured as a last resort we could probably sell them and make somebody a good deal."
An unexpected bonus for the city of St. Louis is the addition of Kansas State and Kentucky in the field —two other teams in close proximity with loyal fans.
“I think Kansas will be able to support this tournament pretty well by having all three teams here,” said Kyle. “We have a lot of WSU and K-State fans. A lot of WSU supporters support (K-State’s) football program, so I thought it was a good thing.”
K-State and Wichita State will play each other Sunday if both teams win their first game Friday. The only way the Jayhawks would play the Shockers in the tournament is if both teams reach the championship game in Arlington, Texas.
Though the Jayhawks and Shockers won’t play each other this weekend, it worked out well for the Wiggins family. Nick Wiggins is a senior with the Shockers and his brother Andrew is the heralded freshman for the Jayhawks.
“To have them in the same building where you could watch in the afternoon and the evening, I think, would be very cool. The fact that they’re not playing each other will probably be better for them,” said KU coach Bill Self.
“It would be something that everybody in our state would probably be a dream match-up, but for that family it probably played out perfectly for them I would think.”
The appeal of the games in St. Louis has attracted the top crew for CBS Sports, led by play-by-play star Jim Nantz. After the first game between Stanford and New Mexico, a team from Kansas will be featured in each game for the rest of the day.