In a blue and red Kansas University ballcap and a matching vinyl jacket Monday, Scott Watson wore the gear of the team he loves.
And for the rest of this March Madness season, he has one message: Go Shockers.
"I'm more interested that they're a Kansas school," Watson said of the Sweet 16-bound Wichita State Shockers basketball team. "To do what they've done in the tournament, they're impressive."
By way of Kansas blood or simply the need for a team to root for, some KU fans have turned to the school two hours away - coached by Mark Turgeon, a former KU player and Topeka native - for a sparkle of hope during the NCAA Tournament.
The Jayhawks, of course, were bounced out of the 65-team field Friday by WSU conference-mate Bradley University. Wichita State - often snubbed as a lower-tier opponent by KU fans - is still alive and well after winning its first two games.
On Monday at Louise's Downtown, 1009 Mass., Chris Sudermann shot pool with a couple friends - all three wearing KU hats or sweatshirts. But he's into the Shockers, and why not? One Kansas school is better than nothing.
"It's good to see them win," Sudermann said between shots. "The Final Four would be great."
Around here, the Shockers' bandwagon has filled fast since KU fell.
Which begs the question: With the Shockers doubling KU's tournament win total the last two years, wouldn't an in-state rivalry game make some sense?
After all, the Shockers' Missouri Valley Conference has been the talk of this year's NCAA field, with Bradley's surprise victories against KU and Pittsburgh and the Shockers' promising and probable drive to at least the Elite Eight.
So why not?
Legislation that would have required KU's men's basketball team to play Wichita State was filed in 2004 at the Statehouse, but it went nowhere after KU objected.
KU said it would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost ticket and television revenue, a claim that the sponsor of the legislation, former state Rep. Todd Novascone, R-Wichita, said was a joke.
Novascone said the game would have been a revenue-driver because of the devoted fan bases within the state.
The two teams have not played since the 1992-93 season. They have met 14 times, with Kansas winning 12.
Root for WSU?
Five reasons to follow the Wichita State Shockers in the NCAA Tournament: 5. The Shockers haven't been in the tournament since 1988 - the same year KU won the national championship. An eerie coincidence! 4. The Shockers beat the Bradley Braves earlier this year. 3. Back in the day, the Jayhawks were a member of the Missouri Valley Conference. 2. Wichita State's head coach, Mark Turgeon, played for the Jayhawks in 1984-87. 1. They are from Kansas. Sunflower State pride!
Novascone's bill was essentially killed during a committee meeting in February 2004 as several members leaving said they had to hurry to get to the KU-Baylor game at Allen Fieldhouse.
But even if the two teams can't get a yearly ballgame going, at least one lawmaker thinks the Shockers' bandwagon should be packed with fans from Jayhawk country.
It probably won't become a state mandate, but Wichita Democrat Rep. Tom Sawyer said KU fans owe the Shockers one.
"There's a lot of KU support in Wichita," Sawyer said. "Every 25 years you guys get to root for us."
Not everyone here thinks so. Sure, the Shockers are in-state homeboys, but without the Jayhawks around to root for, nothing quite stacks up.
Mike Cuper is a manager at Buffalo Wild Wings, 1012 Mass., and all season long Wichita State fans have trickled into the restaurant to catch the team's games.
But since the tournament began, Cuper said, fans haven't exactly been turning up in droves to catch the midmajor bandwagon.
"I haven't noticed much," Cuper said of increased Shockers support in Lawrence. "A lot of the KU fans are on spring break. Or they've boycotted the tournament."