DES MOINES, Iowa — Howard has the opportunity to do something only one team has done in the history of the men’s NCAA Tournament: knock off a 1 seed in the first round.

The Bison are a 21-point underdog, but they have the help of a player from the small town of Holcomb, Kansas.

Kobe Dickson said he wants to be an inspiration to all the small town kids from Kansas. He won two 4-A state titles for his hometown with a population of just over 2,000. He went to Cornell before transferring to Howard.

Now, as fate would have it, his team is in the NCAA Tournament, facing his home state team.

“This is like my biggest dream come true and especially to be able to play Kansas, you know, a team I cheered for my entire life up until this week, I mean, it’s hard to put into words how special it is to be here and be doing this,” Dickson said.

The Howard forward said he went to KU basketball camps and games as a kid, even photos in full Kansas gear. But he joked that this week he deleted some of those photos and got rid of the gear.

“We’re locked in right now,” Dickson said.

Howard’s coach Kenny Blakeney has some experience with KU. He coached Jayhawks star Jalen Wilson at the NBA Combine and said he observed an NBA-ready player then.

He was also a member of Duke’s 1991 national championship team that beat Kansas. This time, the Jayhawks hope it’s the other way around when they face Blakeney.

The Kansas vs. Howard game tips off at 1 p.m. CT Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.