Saturday the college basketball world was turned upside down. 16 out of 26 of the brackets in the Washington Times Communities bracket pool had Kansas winning the National Championship. Although just one bracket pool, it reflects what many people in the country did: Pick the Jayhawks to win it all.
The game was played in Oklahoma City at the Ford Center. Northern Iowa was the opponent and the nine seed. All the Panthers did was lead for almost the entire game and iced it on Ali Farokhmanesh’s (whose dad has a striking resemblance to Borat) gallant three pointer. Very nice!
Final score: Northern Iowa 69 Kansas 67.
Five years ago Kansas lost to the lower seeded Bucknell Bison in the NCAA tournament in Oklahoma City at the Ford Center. The two games were similar with one ironic twist.
The week of the KU-Bucknell game coincided with Bucknell’s spring break. Most of the students were out of town and they couldn’t find enough of the band members to make the trip to Oklahoma.
“We were stuck,” said Jon Terry, Director of Athletic Communications at Bucknell. “It just slipped through the cracks.”
Lucky for the Bison they were sharing a hotel with another team participating in the tournament and they asked them if they could borrow their band to play for their game. With less than a days notice and brand new Bucknell shirts to wear for the game, they stepped up.
What school’s band saved the day? Northern Iowa.
Not only did the UNI pep band play the Bison on to the huge upset but they even went back to the hotel and played the after party.
“I remember walking off the bus… and this band was there playing our fight song with all of our fans,” then Bucknell Assistant Coach Bryan Goodman said. “We walked through the small crowded lobby giving high fives to everyone.”
(Two of those high fives went to my friend Fitz and I. As we watched the game and he polished off the last Coke Zero and Chili’s chips and salsa, we realized when is an upset like this going to happen in our hometown again. So we went to the Holiday Inn, now closed, off the highway and blended in as if we had been fans forever.)
The following year in 2006, Bucknell had Northern Iowa on the schedule. The Bison traveled to Cedar Falls, Iowa bringing with them their band this time. To say thank you at halftime they donned purple Panther hats and played the UNI fight song.
“Everything went well,” Terry said. “Until we lost in double overtime.”
So does any of this have anything to do with the UNI victory last weekend? Is it karma? Is it a coincidence? Or did goodwill finally pay off?
“I don’t think its a coincidence,” Northern Iowa Band Director Dr. Daniel Galyen said. “We’re obviously a good luck charm against (Kansas).”
“People may not believe in fate, but there was definitely some good will,” Terry added.
“Good will doesn’t always pay off,” Goodman said. “But in this case I’m glad it did. I’m sure Bison fans everywhere are happy for them.”
Now these two schools will forever be linked. Both for taking down a national power in postseason play, and doing it with the same pep band leading the charge.
“I think there will always be a strong friendship between Bucknell and UNI,” Galyen admitted.
Surely Kansas will make the dance next year. And when they do Dr. Galyen has some advice for their post season opponent, “Give us a call. We would be happy to help!”
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.