The University of Akron has made the NCAA tournament by virtue of winning the Mid American Conference (MAC) championship. They were ranked fifth in the tournament and had to go through number 1 seed Bowling Green and number 2 seed Buffalo to earn the championship. Bowling Green and Buffalo were co-champions of the MAC regular season.
They accomplished this task by playing five games in seven days; but that's the stress teams play under in tournament competition.
They are going to the NCAA tournament for the fist time since 1986. The coach of the 1986 team was Bob Huggins. Yes, the same Bob Huggins that brought Cincinnati to the tournament several times and is now coaching West Virginia.
In my view, Bob Huggins is an outstanding basketball coach. During his years at Akron they consistently won 20 games or more each year; he raised the level of basketball at the university during his time there.
I had the good fortune to meet Bob just before his spot on a local sports radio talk show. I was heavily involved with soccer in the Akron area and Ohio at the time and appeared on a program with commentator Steve French that was devoted to talking about soccer and its development in our area. The "Bob Huggins Show" went on shortly after my spot and I had the opportunity to meet and speak with him before he went on. I've followed his career after he left Akron and have enjoyed his successes.
Now back to the NCAA tournament. Akron (ranked 13 in their bracket) drew number 4 Gonzaga for their first game. Most of us never heard of Gonzaga until Jerry "The Shark" brought them to the forefront of national attention with a serious run in the tournament many years ago. They have a strong program and are expected to put Akron away in the first round.
Of course, miracles do happen and those of us who follow Akron University sports are hoping for a good game and, yes, a victory. We will watch the game with interest and hope for the best. Gonzaga will be a huge test for this growing Akron University basketball program.