Even the tourney’s small schools have superfans

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Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State aren’t the only schools with fans bases willing to travel anywhere to watch their teams play.

Even the smallest schools in the NCAA tournament will have fans at their first-round games. And some will make their schools proud.

A “superfans” feature from Mike Tanier takes a peek at the fans from Belmont, Long Island and Northern Colorado and what lengths they’ve traveled this season – and what awaits them on Thursday and Friday. After that, anything goes.

Here’s an excerpt:

Frustrated by the paltry crowds, [David] Fish founded the Motivational Organization of Belmont (the “MOB”) with the blessing of the athletic director. Getting students interested in a down-and-out team was tough, but Fish offered T-shirts and pizza to students who joined the MOB and attended games. At first, membership was sparse, and fans could race through empty seats to make noise and distract opponents. “The whole place was our playground,” Fish said. Later, the Bruins moved the Curb Event Center, and the MOB slowly grew.

Belmont basketball also got better. The MOB grew to 850 members. Fish graduated but took a job in the admissions office and kept supervising the MOB. When Belmont reached the tourney for the first time in 2006, Belmont selected 12 MOB members to join a 150-strong contingent that traveled from Nashville to San Diego for a first-round game against UCLA. Fish and Hayner were chaperones. Tears of pride rolled from boosters’ cheeks when they passed T-shirt vendors hawking search with Belmont’s name on them. “It was like we discovered a new continent,” Fish said.

This is a school with 4600 students. You do yourself proud, MOB.

Northern Colorado and Belmont will both in be Tucson Thursday. LIU’s in Charlotte, facing No. 2 seed Carolina.

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