With March Madness beckoning, college hoops fans are ready to fill out their brackets.
They're ready to check facts and trends about tournament seeds. And most of all, they are ready to experience the anxiety, joy and even pain of the tournament which has filled their brains with memories of upsets and memorable championship runs.
But before you start filling out those brackets on Selection Sunday, let me remind you of an NCAA Tournament tale that has been forgotten by many.
And it happened right here in Utah.
In a recently-published book, titled "Blitz Kids. The Cinderella Story of the 1944 University of Utah National Championship Basketball Team," you can read about the true story of an underdog team from Salt Lake City that upset Dartmouth for the NCAA crown.
Written by Josh and Tres Ferrin, grandson and son of Arnie Ferrin -- the college basketball legend who led the Utes during their remarkable run -- "Blitz Kids" describes a team that played at the height of World War II and overcame countless obstacles en route to Utah's first and only NCAA title.
The book details the lives of Utah's two star players, Ferrin, and Japanese-American Wat Misaka. Both players grew up in Ogden and were standouts at Ogden High School before their collegiate careers. Oddly enough, they never knew each other until their first practice with the Utes (who were then known as the Running Redskins).
"Ogden should be proud of what these guys (Wat and Arnie) accomplished," Tres Ferrin said. "Both of them came from our little community here in Ogden, never knew each other and came together to do something great."
With most athletes drafted into the military, few colleges fielded teams during the war, but Utah coach Vadal Peterson stitched together a makeshift squad that featured Ferrin and Misaka.
Initially, the team had difficulty scheduling games, but as the wins piled up, teams were itching to get a shot at the upstart kids from Utah.
After finishing their season with a 19-3 record, the Utes were invited to the NCAA Tournament and the NIT -- which in the 1940s, was the more prestigious of the two tourneys. Utah chose the NIT, but was defeated in the opening round in New York City.
However, before the Utes could return home, they were given a second chance. The Arkansas basketball team was involved in a tragic car accident that forced it to forfeit its spot in the NCAA Tournament in Kansas, which then was offered to Utah. The Utes took advantage of the opportunity, storming through Missouri and Iowa State before returning to the Big Apple to win it all in the championship against highly-touted Dartmouth.
The book tugs at the heart of any sports enthusiast, telling the story of a patchwork team that received virtually no media attention until their famed run to glory.
"It's one of the greatest stories in the history of U.S. sports, not just basketball," Ferrin said. "It's a shame more people don't know about it."
Josh and Tres Ferrin are hosting a book-signing of "Blitz Kids" today from 6 to 8 p.m. during the Art Walk Imagine Ballet Theatre at 2432 Washington Blvd. Both Misaka and Arnie Ferrin will signing, as well.