I have a confession to make: When it comes to basketball in March, I am a Kent State fan.
For 49 weeks a year, I wear my Bowling Green colors on my sleeve and, as such, can't stand Kent State. Anybody who read my posts on the MAC Tournament probably got that vibe.
But whenever the Kent men's team advances to the NCAA Tournament, as they regularly do, I suddenly follow them with the verve of a lifelong fan. They hooked me with their fantastic run to the Elite Eight in 2002.
That's why I'm a bit down after watching Pitt dispatch the Golden Flashes 79-64 tonight.
Kent hung around, but this was one 5-12 matchup that wasn't ripe for an upset. Pitt was just too fast and too talented, and Kent didn't have enough of the shooting magic that propelled them into previous tournaments.
Even though Kent remains the class of the MAC, I think it isn't much of a secret that this team wasn't as strong as Kent tournament teams of previous years. Nate Gerwig was the only holdover from the '02 team, and now his career is finished.
Sure, I still have Ohio State to watch, and with any luck, they'll dispatch Georgetown and reach the Sweet 16. But we expect the Buckeyes to win regularly.
For these three weeks, Kent is much closer to my heart. I watched them in person for two years covering BG men's basketball. I got to know those great Kent teams. I loved the fact that they represented my school's conference in the NCAAs, and put that conference on the basketball map by coming out of nowhere and taking the nation by storm, ending within a win of the Final Four.
Philadelphians might wax poetic about Villanova in '85. But Kent State, they're my favorite underdog story.