Severine Huchet and Jim Hipps are proud alumni of NC State. But they are very familiar with the fans of Kansas University, the Wolfpack’s opponent in the Sweet 16 on Friday night. Huchet lived in Lawrence, Kansas, for six years before moving back to Cary last year and Hipps has lived near Kansas City since 1992.
We got in touch with Huchet and Hipps by email this week to get a sense of what it’s like for a Wolfpacker to live among fans of the Jayhawks. In a word, it’s intense.
“They are CRAZY!” Huchet wrote. “Lawrence is a university town, with about 90,000 Lawrencians and 30,000 students. When there is a basketball game or football, the town turns ‘crimson and blue.’ There is an amazing sense of pride — it’s running through people’s veins.”
Unlike the Triangle, which has three major universities and split fan bases, Kansas is the only game in town in Lawrence. “In Lawrence, the entire town lives for the game,” Huchet writes. She says children in Lawrence are taught Jayhawks fight songs in preschool.
Hipps, who was an offensive tackle for NC State’s football team in the late 1960s and early 1970s, says Kansas fans take great pride in their long history of success in basketball, including the fact that their first coach (Dr. James Naismith) invented the game. “Kansas basketball fans are very intense and loyal to their program,” he writes.
Huchet says her household will be torn during Friday’s game. “My heart is a Wolfpack, but my kids have been indoctrinated as Jayhawks,” she writes. “It’s a cult over there. You are born a Jayhawk, you are raised a Jayhawk, you breathe as a Jayhawk.”
Hipps is firmly in NC State’s corner, telling his Kansas friends recently that “wolves love fresh prairie pigeons.”
“I am glad to see KU do well (I am happy to see them thrash the Tar Heels on occasion), but always pull for the Pack when the teams meet,” he writes.
Their predictions for Friday night’s game?
Huchet: “I believe the Wolfpack has the momentum and I think it will be a day of mourning for Lawrence. And I do mean it. Lawrencians will be in shock and depressed if they lose.”
Hipps: “73 to 68, NC State!”