Steamboat Pilot & Today sports reporter and photographer Joel Reichenberger can be reached at 871-4253 or jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs I may have gotten a little carried away Thursday night, and dear old St. Patrick isn’t to blame.
No, dear old Jacob Pullen is.
My alma mater, Kansas State University, won in the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday, beating those villains, the Utah State Aggies. Although half of America seemed to have picked against my beloved Wildcats and Utah State actually was ranked higher in the last rankings, it was far from an upset. K-State was a much higher seed.
Still, I saw fit to celebrate like the Cats had won the national championship.
Looking back, it seems a little silly. Another tournament game was less than 48 hours away at the time (and is still a few hours away as of this writing).
But I’ll stand by my excitement, even though I’m reminded at least twice a day that Colorado beat K-State three times this season.
Oh, that reminds me. Did you hear the selection committee announced what the Buffaloes needed to get into this year’s NCAA tournament? A ticket! Zing!
Seriously, though, my reason for potentially excessive celebration is something CU fans should consider and remember. I spent most of my life watching other teams play in the NCAA tournament. K-State would very occasionally crack the field but always lose in the first round.
They finally won one game in 2008 and then advanced to the Elite Eight last year.
Despite that bout of success — a bout of success by recent K-State standards, anyway — I’m well aware how rare a win in the NCAA tournament can be. K-State was one of 32 teams to win in the first round and one of 16 to win Thursday, but to the teams that aren’t there every year, it was special.
It was a great feeling because I’ve ridden through the hard times. I’ve been crushed before.
I’ve watched ESPN commentators rant about what a raw deal my team got.
I knew then, like honest Colorado fans do now, that my team was flawed. The Buffaloes probably should have won any debate as to whether or not they belonged, but there was legitimate reason for there to have been a debate.
Colorado will be back. The team already is laying waste to the NIT field. It has a few great players it may lose to the NBA, but the key is coach Tad Boyle, who in one year showed what his system can do.
After abandoning the Big 12 and its perennial powerhouses, the team should do just fine in the Pac 12 next year.
The Buffaloes aren’t going anywhere. They could make the tournament next year. If they get in and win a game, two or even more, those fans who lived this disappointment will appreciate every victory the way they wouldn’t have before.
People look at you just a little funny when you go crazy celebrating a first-round win, but I’m OK with that. Thursday night was pretty sweet.