March Madness is bursting out all over – in Dayton with Western Kentucky, Louisville with Kentucky and Murray, and Portland with Louisville.
But there’s a bit of March Madness right here in Frankfort, and it starts Wednesday with the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship.
The tournament kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Frankfort Convention Center, and the action is pretty much non-stop until the championship game next Tuesday at 6 p.m.
A total of 31 games will be played in six days, with Sunday an off day for the semifinalists.
That’s the only break in the schedule that includes eight games Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The match-ups Wednesday and Thursday will be first-round games, and Friday will be the second round.
Take a look at the field – 32 teams and not a losing record in the bunch. In fact only five have double-digit losses.
Oklahoma City comes into the tournament with the best record and a storied history.
The No. 1 team in the coaches’ poll, the Stars are 30-1 and looking for their sixth national championship.
Oklahoma City opens play Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. against Our Lady of the Lake out of Texas.
Two players from Frankfort will be competing in this year’s tournament – Georgetown College’s Andrea Howard and Campbellsville’s Chelsea Craig, both Franklin County graduates.
Georgetown and Campbellsville are two of five Mid-South Conference teams in the tournament, the most teams any conference has in the field.
Georgetown (21-9) will play Vanguard (23-6) of California Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., and Campbellsville (20-12) takes on Saint Xavier (23-8) from Illinois Thursday at 9 a.m.
The other Mid-South teams are Shawnee State (27-5), Lindsey Wilson (20-12) and regular-season and tournament champion Cumberlands (28-3).
Shawnee State faces William Woods (23-9) in the tournament’s opening game. The Bears, making their second straight trip to the national championship, reached the semifinals last year before falling to Union (Tenn.)
Union was national runner-up last year after winning the tournament the two previous years.
Union (31-2) plays Lindsey Wilson Thursday at 8 p.m., and defending national champion Azusa Pacific (Calif.) tips off at noon Wednesday against MidAmerica Nazarene (Kansas).
And there’s more than just basketball involved with this event.
A banquet for the participating teams will take place tonight at Kentucky State’s Exum Center.
An exhibition at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History – “Women in Basketball” – features stories of women who influenced the sport from its start in 1891 to today.
Visitors who bring a ticket stub from the NAIA tournament will receive a 25 percent discount off regular admission to the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History through the month of March.
You’ll see plenty of basketball games at the Convention Center, and you’ll see plenty of basketball players around town.
All 32 teams take part in the Champions of Character program, which stresses five core values – integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership -– and this week they’re visiting various Frankfort organizations including a Special Olympics basketball clinic, Stewart Home School, Frankfort YMCA after-school program, and Franklin County and Frankfort elementary schools to help spread the importance of those values.
Tickets for the tournament will be available at the Frankfort Convention Center. The cost is $10 per session for adults, $5 per session for those 65 and older, and there’s no charge for children ages 12 and under.