Kansas City is college basketball

The College Basketball Experince is attached to the Sprint Center, where they held their Hall of Fame Classic from Nov. 23 to Nov. 24, 2015. (Mason Swenson | The Collegian)

From North Carolina shocking the world by beating Wilt Chamberlain and Kansas in the 1957 national title game to the run by “Danny (Manning) and the Miracles” that culminated in a national title back in 1988, Kansas City has been the stage for so many great moments in the college basketball world. With the addition of the Sprint Center and College Basketball Experience, the center of the college basketball universe is located in the heart of Kansas City.

The latest chapter of college basketball in the City of Fountains was North Carolina coming back late to defeat K-State in the final game of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic on Nov. 24.

“Playing in Kansas City feels a heck of a lot better after the last four minutes,” Roy Williams, head coach for North Carolina, said following his team’s 80-70 victory. “I love this place, the town of Kansas City. I love Kansas, the way people feel about college basketball here. It’s something that I’ll never forget. It’s something that I’ll always appreciate.”

Williams is no stranger to playing games in Kansas City. He coached the Kansas Jayhawks for 15 seasons before moving back to his home state of North Carolina in April of 2003.

After leading his Tarheels to a win over the Wildcats, Williams discussed some of the things he loves about Kansas City.

“Got to go to Garozzo’s Restaurant in Kansas City, have some of the best Italian food I’ve ever had,” Williams said. “Wish my knees were feeling better because I like walking around the town, but two knee surgeries this summer and one jump on the sideline late, I’m not walking anywhere except the ‘daggum’ bus.”

The City of Fountains has a long lineage of hosting Final Fours, conference tournaments and regular season tournaments, so when the National Association of Basketball Coaches wanted to pick a venue to showcase the rich history of college basketball, it was almost a no brainer.

With over 41,000 square feet of space, since 2007 the College Basketball Experience has become a popular attraction for visitors to Kansas City during the college basketball season all the way through the summer.

With possible regional hosting bids that occur every few years for the NCAA Tournament, one of the most consistent events that occurs during the season is the CBE Hall of Fame Classic that helps kickstart the season.

Each year, the classic features one or two local teams. This season, K-State and Missouri, two old Big Eight and Big 12 rivals, were featured. With both schools less than 130 miles away, the two teams essentially in a home game-like atmosphere, which in some cases can spur a team to a potential upset.

“Very exciting,” senior Wildcat guard Justin Edwards said of the atmosphere in Kansas City. “We have a lot of great, loyal fans. It’s fun to play here. I told the team before we came here that it would be a fun experience and that we would have lots of fans.”

While the game of college basketball may change, the shorts may get longer and the players may be more athletic, the game and its love affair with a city may never change.