KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This isn't exactly the surprise of the century. To predict it, all you needed was a casual understanding of sports fandom and/or a map. But that doesn't make it any less true: Kansas State fans are going to dominate the atmosphere at this year's O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic.
The proximity of Manhattan, Kan. to Kansas City -- not to mention the sizable swath of K-State grads living in and around the metropolitan area -- makes this practically a home event for the Wildcats. Each of the four schools on hand here travel relatively well, but none of them come remotely close to the presence K-State fans have on the ground thus far.
Again, this isn't Dewey defeats Truman. It will not shock you to your core. But the breadth of the home-court advantage on hand here is worth mentioning.
It became clear almost as soon as I checked in to my hotel this afternoon. About 15 Kansas State fans were in the check-in line ahead of me, and maybe 40 or so more were milling about the hotel lobby, planning trips to local bars and pre-game meals at restaurants in the Power and Light District. The Wildcats don't tip off until 9:30 p.m. ET. I checked in at 4 p.m. As of this writing, the Sprint Center is about half-full in advance of the 7:30 ET Duke-Marquette tilt. Those seats won't last for long.
How that will affect Gonzaga's chances of taking down Frank Martin's team tonight -- or, conversely, how it will help boost K-State's hopes of taking down Duke (or, less likely, Marquette) on Tuesday night -- remains to be seen. It certainly can't hurt, but there is a difference between playing in the Octagon of Doom and playing at a neutral arena with segmented seating arrangements for various fanbases.
But with the way Kansas State fans have already come out -- and remember, their game doesn't start for another two hours -- you have to expect Jacob Pullen and company to feel right at home. The only thing missing is a giant K-State logo at midcourt.