Reporting Ross Guidotti
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There’s quite a buzz on the Robert Morris University campus today because the team is hosting the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats.
While RMU missed out on making the NCAA Tournament, their consolation prize is a home game against Kentucky in the first round of the NIT.
The Wildcats are coached by Moon Township native John Calipari who is looking forward to tonight’s matchup.
“If we were going to have to go on the road, it would be here. Not for me coming home, because Robert Morris – I have ties here. For them, this is a big deal. Every game we play, when we come to the shoot-around, students are lined up for the tickets. We don’t play in front of anything but sold out arenas. But that’s the challenge, like I tell recruits, this is not for everybody,” Calipari said.
Tonight’s game at the Sewell Center will be played in front of a sold out 3,500 fans. By comparison, Kentucky packs about 23,000 in for their home games.
RMU head coach Andy Toole knows this game is big for the program and the university.
“You’re talking about bringing one of the, if not the elite program, in college basketball into your facility is something that very few teams have the opportunity to do ever. So for our guys, it’s a great opportunity. For our program it’s great. For our university, it’s terrific,” Toole said.
How big is this game? RMU has decided to cancel all night classes on their Moon Township campus so students can watch the game.
And few people know the team better than Paul Swank.
“I’m actually a manager for the team, so I’ll be sitting on the bench right in the middle of it,” said Swank.
And Swank says from his inside view, the Colonials are up for the challenge.
“I think defense – defense will be key,” he said. “And I think it will be a lot closer than a lot of people think.”
Being realistic, though, this is going to be a challenge for the Colonials; the Wildcats are the reigning NCAA national champions.
“I think it’s going to be by the hand of God. I don’t think they’ve got that much of a chance, but I’m going to go and I’m going to root,” RMU student Robert Deliman said.
Tip-off between the Wildcats and Colonials is at 7:30 p.m.