KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While four teams vied for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game Friday, two fan bases dominated the crowds leading up to the Semifinal games.
Both Kansas and Iowa State fan bases live and breathe college basketball. And no doubt want to win every game. But it certainly is a friendly rivalry that everyone seems to enjoy.
Inside a packed Power and Light it was hard to tell who had more fans. The Kansas Jayhawks.
“It’s amazing I come down here every year KU is off the chain,” Lisa Aquino said.
Or the Iowa State Cyclones?
“All kinds of Iowa State fans having a good time we sang the fight song, I heard Sweet Caroline a little bit ago,” a Cyclone fan named Jimbo said.
Alumni Director Jeff Johnson gives credit to Kansas City for being so welcoming. He said Iowa State fans have never forgotten as many make the trip every year.
“Our fans are rabid and they are everywhere 280,000 living graduates probably twice that number of fans. They travel well, are respectful to the cities they are in, and are just incredible to be in front of,” Johnson said after leading a packed Power and Light in Cyclone cheers before the game.
But not every four hour drive from Iowa is for the Cyclones. The Bakers live in Iowa, but have been season ticket holders for a decade for Jayhawk games in Lawrence, Kansas.
“We did a boomerang trip, we come down watch the game turn around and go home and I’d be at work by 6 o’clock,” Joani Baker explained of games where she had work the next day.
For alumni like recent National Champion Mitch Lightfoot, who is used to seeing all the excitement in the arena, the associated festivities provided a new perspective on just how big the Big 12 Championship really is.
“I think you can look around and see the amount of fan support. This is a serious event, people take this super serious and all the players are so lucky to be able to play for these fans,” Lightfoot said.
Kansas will play at least one more game at T Mobile Center in the Big 12 Championship after defeating Iowa State 71-58.
The team also could be in line for a trip to Kansas City in the NCAA Tournament if it advances to the Sweet 16 and is placed in the Midwest Region.