by Rosie & Don Schrack Jr.
The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness, is a single-elimination tournament featuring 68 college basketball teams from the Division I level to determine the national championship.
Before the start of March Madness, tournaments were held to determine the winners of each conference. The one of greatest importance to Don Sr. and Rosie Schrack was the Big 8/Big 12 Men’s basketball tournament held in Kansas City, also known as Hilton South. Held the first week in March on Wednesday through Sunday, Don and Rosie would make the trek to Kansas City, arriving on Tuesday and leaving on Sunday or Monday after the tournament. Joining them would be 4 to 5 other couples making the week a fun-filled event for the Group. The Group created a Most Valuable Fan (MVF) contest that awarded points for certain accomplishments. A “team” meeting was held every morning at 8:00 AM to discuss points and teams playing that day as well as to enjoy breakfast and adult-beverages before the caravan to the arena. On Sunday, the Group would award the MVF to one of the individuals by presenting him or her with a traveling trophy.
The Group attended the Big 8 Tournament during the Johnny Orr coaching years held at Kemper Arena. During Orr’s years, the ISU Cyclones finished runner-up in 1985 and 1986 losing to Oklahoma and Kansas, respectively. The Cyclones won the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament in 1996, 2000, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Johnny Orr retired in 1994 and was followed by Tim Floyd (1994-1998), Larry Eustachy (1998-2003), Wayne Morgan & Greg McDermott (2003-2010), Fred Hoiberg (2010-2015) and Steve Prohm (2015-present). In 1996, the Big 8 Conference was formed into the Big 12 Conference with the tournament moving to the Sprint Center in 2008. The tournament was held in Dallas in 2003, 2004 and 2006 and Oklahoma City in 2007 and 2009 and returned to Kansas City to the Sprint Center now called T-Mobile Center in 2010 and is scheduled to remain there until 2025.
Don Sr., Rosie and Don Jr. attended the tournaments in Dallas and Oklahoma City before the return to Kansas City. Before the tournament, the Cyclone Alumni Association would hold a Pep Rally and Cyclone Nation would show up in force to party and cheer on the Cyclones. In Dallas, Cyclone Nation showed up and drank the pep rally and local bars out of Bloody Marys in less than two hours. In Kansas City, Kelly’s Westport Inn is the Headquarters for Cyclone Nation during the tournament with many a Cyclone enjoying their famous Jell-O Shots, sometimes to excess.
The Group stopped going to the Tournament many years ago, but still recall all the wonderful memories and associations with other Cyclone Fans.