I will get to pick up two new teams to my NCAA basketball list beginning with tonight's game against Western Michigan. On Saturday, Wright State will come to Huntsville to take on the Bearkats.
This will put me up to 58 NCAA basketball teams I have seen play. I probably will not add to the list again this season (unless I got to Lafayette) since I will not be going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two years unless the Bearkats are involved.
I have to give it to SHSU head coach Bob Marlin. Over the last few years, he has done a great job of brining in some good Mid-Major programs to Johnson Coliseum. Just in the last three years, I have gotten the chance to see Loyola-Marymount, Central Florida, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Fresno State, Cal-Irvine, Texas Tech (not a mid-major but a great home game), Southern Miss and North Texas.
People around here always seem to get really excited when the Bearkats play host to Texas Tech or head on the road to Texas A&M and with good reason. I got excited to see Bob Knight patrol the sidelines here last season as well. I intentionally set up my seat on press row next to the Tech bench just so I could get a close look at a legend at work.
But the problem is, to a lot of people, our season ended last year with the home victory over Tech and it won't start this year until the Bearkats head over to College Station to take on the Aggies.
We are afforded a rare opportunity to watch some really good basketball not just in January and March when schools like SFA and Northwestern State come to Huntsville, but in November and December while the football diehards are waiting for the bowls to come around.
There was a time when a mid-major wouldn't come down to Huntsville. The non-conference slate was full on the Schreiner's and the Austin College's. While they are still on the slate, we do get treated with three or four good games a year as well. It is just a shame more people in the area don't realize what they have. Who knows how long we will continue to have this opportunity.