Kent State prepares for March Madness battle against UCLA

KENT, Ohio (WYTV) – The Kent State Golden Flashes play their first March Madness game Friday night against the UCLA Bruins — the first time KSU has played in the NCAA tournament since 2008.

Kent State’s basketball team is attempting to slip on the Cinderella slipper tonight in Sacramento, trying to become the 19th 14-seed to knock off a 3-seed in the tournament in the last 32 years.

In the last NCAA tournament Kent State played in, sophomore Terra O’Brien was ten years old.

“I always fill out a bracket and I never thought my school would be on bracket, so we’re really rooting for them,” she said.

Full NCAA March Madness schedule

Many stopped at the school’s bookstore this week. The university said it only has around 100 of the March Madness t-shirts left.

“You have the die-hard fans and the season ticket holders, then you have the alumni that want to have the outfit before tonight’s game,” said General Merchandise Manager Tim Schuppenhaur.

On display in the school’s student center is the MAC Championship trophy, which was the Golden Flashes’ ticket to the dance. It was an improbable run to the tournament for the team.

“I am really excited because I actually go here now and I’m super involved. Everybody is shocked because you don’t expect it,” O’Brien said.

Kent State had to knock off the number 3-, 2-, and 1-seeds in the conference tournament to enter the championship. It was a wild ride, but alumnus Craig Melzer watched every game.

“I think what makes this special is the expectation they weren’t really expected to finish atop of the MAC Conference,” he said. “The team was struggling as early as February. No one expected the team to win.”

Kent State versus UCLA tips off at 10 p.m.