Tulsa, Okla. — You couldn't avoid it if you tried. This town is set up perfectly for the Kansas University men's basketball team to feel right at home here and, therefore, to roll through the first two rounds of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
The games begin Friday, when top-seeded Kansas (32-2) takes on Boston U. (21-13) at 5:50 p.m., central time. If they win, KU would play again Sunday against the winner of the game between UNLV and Illinois. A gametime has not yet been determined.
While the wait for tipoff continues for another day, the crazy coincidences in the area surrounding the BOK Center, where the games will be played, are everywhere.
A quick, Wednesday night stroll around the four or five-block area surrounding our hotel revealed nearly a dozen KU-related omens that should have KU fans feeling good about their team opening the tourney in Tulsa.
Here's a look.
First up, there's an area of Tulsa known as the "Brady District." That might not mean that KU senior Brady Morningstar will be the most outstanding player of this site, but it sure points to him getting off to a good start. If the district sharing his name isn't enough, there's also a spot called the "Brady Tavern." They love the kid down here.
A little further down the road, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, the marquee out front announced an upcoming performance by Terrance Simien. We weren't able to track down the man himself to find out if there's any relation between he and KU great Wayne Simien, but the link to KU can't be denied.
As we walked around the corner, we were hit by a couple more reminders of Lawrence and KU. The first was an ad for a building group known as the "River City Development, LLC," and the next was a sign on a restaurant paying homage to KU football player Angus Quigley. Quigley, as you may know, is the only athlete on campus who's been wearing crimson and blue longer than Morningstar.
Right around the corner from the street map we came across this old building that actually featured the names of two former KU greats. Brandon Rush, a member of the 2008 national-championship team (which, cleary, itself, is a good sign) and Paul Endacott, who played for legendary coach Phog Allen and helped lead KU to Helms national championships in 1922 and 1923.
Back at the hotel, this image jumped right out at us. I mean, I know thousands of people play the piano, but how many teams in the NCAA Tournament have an accomplished pianist in their regular rotation? I don't know the number, but I know that senior forward Mario Little makes KU one of them.
For those KU fans looking for more good omens from the 2008 title run, there are plenty here in Tulsa. First off, there's this building, named for the former Memphis Tiger whose missed free throw allowed Mario's Miracle to become a reality.
Here's another from the title run, Detroit Avenue in Downtown Tulsa serves as a reminder of the site where KU beat Davidson to advance to its most recent Final Four.
Here's another flash down Memory Lane... KUSports.com alum, Ryan Greene, now the UNLV beat writer at the Las Vegas Sun, is also in Tulsa this week. Greene was there the last time the Jayhawks cut down the nets on that magical Monday in April and he's here because the Rebels play the Illini in Round 1. The winner gets the KU-BU winner on Sunday.
There's also a bar that gives a shout out to KU broadcasting legend Max Falkenstien.
Before we go, here's a couple more signs that reference current and former KU greats.
Finally, after digesting all of the pro-KU signs, we found one final omen that bodes especially well for KU's first-round game. There, at the back entrance of the Hyatt was the street sign indicating that the Hyatt is off of Boston Street. Initially, I took this to be a bad sign, but sports editor Tom Keegan quickly pointed out one fine detail on the sign that made it fit right in with this blog.
It's South Boston Street, as in, Boston U. is heading south.
So there you have it. All kinds of signs that point to KU feeling incredibly comfortable and having great success down here in Tulsa. You can't make this stuff up, folks.
Check back with KUSports.com throughout the next few days for more blogs, stories, photos and videos from Tulsa.