Sunflower Showdown Sunday
1:40–Arrival at Bufaflo Wild Wings. Many tables are filled, but many are not. Two gentlemen at one end of the bar, but nobody else. Most of the crowd from watching the Michigan State-Virginia game has left. The San Diego State-Duke game is up now. A few fans, but nowhere near what it will be by 4:15 when the Jayhawks and Shockers tip off.
1:45–My first round of Buzztime trivia begins. The last round of the short form seven question game for the day. At 2, it goes to the 15 question Countdown, the general knowledge game which is Buzztime’s signature.
The friendly Sekou is tending bar this afternoon. Greeted me warmly and filled up my glass with Diet Pepsi right away. Because I’m a regular, I don’t have to use the standard Buffalo Wild Wings glasses. I’m allowed to use my own drinkware.
For a few months last year, it was a giant 52-ounce mug from 7-11, which we don’t have in western Kansas. By the end of the year, I felt a bit gauche about drinking out of a container that big, so I switched to a 24 ounce Tervis glass. It was LSU first, and now I usually alternate between the Arizona Cardinals and Milwaukee Bucks. I also have one for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but someone said she didn’t like Canada. Understood.
First question fo the day: THe United States attacked Baghdad after learning of a plot to assassintate whom? The answer: George H.W. Bush, who was in his last days as President before making way for Bill Clinton.
Second question: Which city burned in 64 A.D.? Of coruse it was Rome, which burned while Nero fiddled.
It’s kind of warm at my bar seat. Glad I wore shorts.
2 p.m.–First round of Countdown commences. Duke up 6-0 on San Diego State afte four minutes at the first television timeout.
2:05 p.m.–Duke’s lead grows to 15-4. San Diego State calls timeout with 13:29 still to go in the first half.
2:15 p.m.–A rash of music questions has allowed me to rack up points and take a 2,200-point lead over one of my trivia nemeses, RONDO. RONDO always sits alone at the bar and drinks Guinness Stout. He never orders food. RONDO only comes in on weekends, leaving me to wipe up during the week.
2:22 p.m.–FOOTS is the winner. 14,181 to 11.985 for RONDO. RONDO’s score would win just about every game of Countdown at this Buffalo Wild Wings…but not this one.
Another high score for the March Countdown board. I own nine of the 10. The tenth was done on March 2, before I started coming this month.
2:25 p.m.–Went out to the patio for a second. It’s such a gorgeous day. Too bad Missouri still allows smoking on outdoor patios, or I might sit outside.
Missouri will never adopt an indoor smoking ban, unless somehow a rash of left-wing legislators are elected, and that’s not likely, given the rural areas have nearly as much, if not more, strength than the large metro areas of Kansas City and St. Louis.
Thankfully, Kansas City has adopted its own indoor smoking ban, or I might be stuck in Kansas all the time. The Sunflower State has banned smoking indoors in restaurants and bars which are not private clubs since 2009, the only good thing to come out of the eight years of the otherwise disastrous administrations of Kathleen $ebeliu$ and Mark Parkin$on.
2:45 p.m.–My lead in Countdown Game 2 vs. RONDO is 2,253 points with five questions left. I’m in good shape.
San Diego State is not in good shape. The Aztecs trail Duke 37-24 at halftime. The Blue Devils are on their way to the South region semifinals in Houston Friday.
It’s now 90 minutes to tip in Omaha between Kansas and Wichita State. Bob Davis and the Kansas radio crew have started their pregame show.
The pressure in tournament games is usually on the higher seeded team. Not in this case.
I believe Wichita State has all the pressure. To the Shockers, beating KU would be armageddon, the end-all, be-all for their program. WSU constantly gripes about the Jayhawks avoiding them, but then again, why should KU play the Shockers? It would be a lose-lose for the Jayhawks. If they win, so what, it’s expected. If they lose, it would be the king of the mighty Big 12 losing to little brother from the Missouri Valley, a school whose overall athletic budget is less than half of KU’s budget for men’s basketball alone. Even when WSU had football, no major conference even remotely considered the Shockers for membership.
4:10 p.m.–I took a round of trivia off after RONDO beat me, although his score was not high enough to get him on the top 10 list this month. I went back to it after he left just before 4.
CBS is live from Omaha. Marv Albert, Len elmore and Chris Webber are setting the scene. We are only minutes away from tipoff. Surprisingly, there are open tables and open seats at the bar. No waiting.
4:18 p.m.–No score after 69 seconds of play. WSU breakst he ice on two Darius Carter free throws.
4:19 p.m.–Blocking foul against he Shockers’ Russell. Frank Mason III to the line, where he makes one of two.
4:20 p.m.–Mason drains a three. KU 4-2.
4:23 p.m.–First TV timeout. KU 8, WSU 5.
4:30 p.m.–Tori just walked in. Loves my shirt. KU up 10-7 with 12:50 left in 1st half.
4:36 p.m.–Tied at 12. Ron Baker misses 3 that would have given WSU the lead. Foul on the rebound against the Shockers.
4:39 p.m.–Frank Mason III drains a trey to put KU up 171-2 with 9:35 left in 1st half.
4:52 p.m.–Liz loves my shirt so much she wants to take a picture with me. Lovely. KU starting to assert itself, going up 24-16 with 5:08 to go in the first half.
4:59 p.m.–Ron Baker drains a 25-footer, narrowing the gap to 24-23 with 2:59 left in the first half. TV timeout.
5:06 p.m.–The Shockers just took a 29-26 lead on a Fred VanVleet three. KU had better get it together.
5:09 p.m.–Halftime in Omaha with the Shockers up 29-26. Never dreamed that would happen. However, there’s still 20 minutes left.
5:38 p.m.–The Jayhawk choke machine is in full effect. Shockers lead 37-30 a little more than three minutes into the second half, prompting Bill Self to call timeout.
Bucknell. Bradley. Northern Iowa. Stanford. All have KO’d Self-coached KU teams on the first weekend of the tourney. Could Wichita State be joining the list? Looks like it unless the Jayhawks snap out of it.
5:42 p.m.–Awfully quiet in here. Shockers up 41-30. If the Jayhawks lose, Buffalo Wild Wings outlets all across KC will have a totally dead week. No way Wichita State will draw that kind of interest 190 miles away.
5:58 p.m.–KU is getting embarrassed. WSU leads 54-43 with 10:50 to go. The Shockers have led by as many as 14. The Jayhawks need to go on a run. NOW.
6:08 p.m. –KU still trails 61-51 with 6:45 to go. Meanwhile, three of my trivia pals, Jane, Mark and John have arrived. Haven’t seen them in a couple of months.
6:32 p.m.–The Jayhawks are officially an embarrassment. It’s bad enough to lose to Wichita State. It’s beyond bad to lose by 16 POINTS. Terrible KU. Just terrible.
The 78-62 victory sends the Shockers into a Sweet 16 matchup Thursday at Cleveland vs. ACC champion Notre Dame.
8:05 p.m.–I’ve seen so many posts on Facebook and Twitter about CBS showing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. And the round of boos he received from fans at Omaha. Mosts posts are anti-Brownback.
I’m still playing trivia. Aside from the one game I lost to Rondo, I’ve been kicking a ton of rear ends.
Back at B-Dubs x 9
I decided just after 3:30 to make the long venture to Buffalo Wild Wings.
It was longer than usual because of a bad accident on I-35 north just past Antioch Road, the last exit before the junction with I-635 north, the 12-mile spur to I-29.
I decided to exit on Johnson Drive, which I knew would lead me to Metcalf, and eventually I-635. Apparently, many others had the same idea. The exit ramp was backed up onto I-35, and the left turn lanes had really long lines. I cooled my heels for a few minutes at the QuikTrip for a pop and a crossiant. Turns out most of the traffic wanted to turn onto Antioch going north, so once I passed that light, it was clear sailing to Metcalf, and then to 635.
I didn’t have to drive around nearly as much to find a parking place at Buffalo Wild Wings. It was still pretty busy, although not nearly as busy as it would have been during the Kansas-New Mexico State and Wichita State-Indiana.
It’s certian to be packed SUnday when KU and WSU meet for the first time since 1992, and for the first time in the NCAA tournament since the 1981 Midwest regional semifinals at New Orleans. I think the Jayhawks win comfortably.
Brittany and Alex are behind the bar, and they are the main reasons I came in tonight. I saw Alex last night, but I left without saying goodbye, and I felt bad about it. She was ecstatic because of all the positive comments I left for her on the surveys I filled out.
I have a long trip to Smith Center tomorrow for a high school basketball All-Star games. I’m coming back to Overland Park at night.
The NCAA tournament has produced no upsets today. Every higher seed has won.
The K Zone
The groan you just heard came from Lawrence, Kansas.
The Kansas Jayhawks have been assigned the Region of Death for the NCAA Tournament, as in the Midwest Region with the almighty Kentucky Wildcats, the prohibitive favorite to win the title for the second time in four years and 10th time overall.
Kansas has only itself to blame for its predicament. Had it not blown a 17-point lead vs. Iowa State yesteday in the Big 12 tournament championship game, in front a virtual home crowd at Kansas City’s Sprint Center, the Jayhawks almost certinaly would have avoided placement in Kentucky’s region, instead going to the South region with Duke as the No. 1 seed. And the Jayhawks certainly would have had more people in Houston that it will in Cleveland should it make the regional.
Should the Jayhawks beat New Mexico State, it could lead to the dream game–at least as far as the fanbase at another Sunflower State school is concerned.
Wichita State has tried time and time and time again to play Kansas (and Kansas State) in the regular season, but the Jayhawks refuse.
I understand Bill Self’s reasoning. First, why would KU want to give up a home game with 16,300 fans for one in Wichita, where Koch Arena seats less than 11,000? Second, It’s a lose-lose propoistion for the Jayhawks. If they win, they’re supposed to, becuase they’re in the Big 12 and the Shockers are in the Missouri Valley. Third, why give Wichtia State a platform to recruit and take away the top blue chips in Kansas away from Lawrence?
If Wichita State is that hard up to play KU, it should be at least a five-for-one deal, and the game in Wichita would have to be at the larger Intrust Bank Arena downtown, not at Koch. If one of the games is at Kansas City, so be it. But no way KU should go home-and-home with Wichita State.
K-State should not, either. Same reasoning.
Until Wichita State learns to give a little, it will be stuck where it is. The Shockers are a perch above other mid-majors, but they are not a major school. Not without football.
KU and Wichita State have played in the NCAA tournament before. In New Orleans.
The Shockers and Jayhawks each won their second round regional games at the Kansas Coliseum in Park City in the 1981 tournament to advance to the Midwest regional semifinals at the Louisiana Superdome. The other teams in the regional would become bitter conference rivals down the road, LSU and Arkansas.
The 1980-81 Shockers were the finest team the school produced, until the 2012-13 and 2013-14 units. Coach Gene Smithson had a powerful team led by All-Americans and future NBA players Antoine Carr and Cliff Levingston. Wichita State easily won the Missouri Valley Conference and was seeded third behind LSU and Arizona State in the regional.
KU was a solid, if unspectacular, unit in 1980-81, coached by Ted Owens, an outstanding coach who gets buried behind the headlines created by Naismith, Allen, Williams, Self and Larry Brown before and after him. Owens took the Jayahwks to the Final Four in 1971 and 1974, quite an achievement in the days when only one team per conference qualified for the NCAA tournament.
The No. 7 seed Jayhawks beat Ole Miss in the first round, then upended the Sun Devils to join the Shockers, Razorbacks and Bayou Bengals in the Big Easy.
LSU fans have developed a healthy dislike for both KU and WSU through the years, but in 1980-81, the first Midwest semifinal was just a time killer before the main attraction.
What a time killer it was. The Shockers and Jayhawks engaged in one of the best games of the tournament, with little brother from the big city coming out on top–barely, 66-65.
Coincidentally, K-State reached the 1981 West regional final under Jack Hartman despite being the No. 8 seed. The Wildcats shocked top ranked Oregon State in the second round and ousted Illinois in the Sweet 16 before falling to North Carolina, led by James Worthy, in the Elite Eight at Salt Lake City.
WSU lost the Midwest regional final to LSU 96-85. Smithson would get the program put on major probation by the NCAA and fired, and it took Eddie Fogler several years to pull the Shockers out of the doldrums. It wasn’t until Mark Turgeon came along where WSU finally became a postseason contender year in and year out.
Owens was fired following two bad years in 1982 1nd 1983. Larry Brown was hired from the New Jersey Nets and took the Jayhawks to five NCAA tournaments in five years, reaching hte Final Four in 1986 and winning it all in 1988. He bolted back to the NBA and the San Antonio Spurs shortly after the championship, well aware the NCAA was about to hammer KU for violations committed under Owens and himself. Roy Williams was left to clean up the mess.
If KU and WSU meet Saturday in Louisville, the winner could have the unenviable task of taking on the mighty Big Blue from the Bluegrass. At least one team can say they made the Elite Eight if that happens.