VERSAILLES — It’s a tale of two brothers: Kyle Ahrens is a junior attending Michigan State University. His brother, Justin, is a freshman at Ohio State University. Both are members of their respective men’s basketball teams.
And on Saturday, Jan. 5, the pair will be taking the same court as the Ohio State Buckeyes host the Michigan State Spartans in Columbus.
Rooting the brothers on will be more than 400 family members and friends, who are making the trip to Columbus for the “game of the season.”
“This is the first time they’ll be facing each other on this level of competition,” said their dad, Kevin. He and his wife, Sue, attend all the OSU and MSU home basketball games to cheer for their sons.
“As parents, we receive tickets for the game,” said Kevin. “This time, we’ll be sitting on OSU’s side. When they play up in Michigan (on Feb. 17), we’ll be sitting on the Michigan side.”
If there’s a conflict, he said, one parent goes to the Michigan game while the other attends the Ohio State game.
“This is an awesome experience,” he said. “But I’m staying neutral” he said when asked which son he’s rooting for.
“Both boys are very competitive. I’ll just sit and watch and evaluate the game,” he said.
Kevin said both sons are excited about Saturday’s game.
“They are both in a great program,” said Kevin. “They both have great coaches and great teammates. They’ve had a lot of fun playing and they’ve made a few jabs at one another.
“But at the end of the day, we’re still family,” said Kevin.
What started out as a family affair to attend the game exploded as family and friends expressed their desire to go along.
“Our family wanted to go to the game,” said the brothers’ aunt, Amy Ahrens. “My sister-in-law was looking for tickets for the family to go. So I put it on Facebook, and it ended up going crazy selling over 400 tickets.”
Amy said her goal was to reach 200 to get a price break on the tickets.
“I ordered tickets one time, and then I had to go back to OSU three more times with more ticket orders,” she said.
The Ahrens fans will be divided into four or five groups and placed around the basketball court.
“There will be big chunks of us together,” said Amy. “We’ll be on each side of the stands. This is OSU’s biggest game of the year, and tickets are very popular for it.”
Because of the number of tickets the family and friends purchased, the Ahrens fans will be taking part in the tunnels that the OSU players run through before the game and at halftime.
“Of course, no one can be wearing a Michigan shirt to participate,” said Amy.
Some of the family will be traveling to the game on board a bus, which has been rented for the occasion. Others are going to Columbus the night before. There are families from Sidney, Versailles, Tipp City, Coldwater and several counties planning to attend the game.
“I was shocked by the number of tickets that were sold,” said Kevin. “But it’s also pretty neat (to see that support). A lot of people have talked to me, and they are so excited about the game. They can’t wait for it.”
Amy said they tried to have shirts made that were half OSU and half MSU, but because of copyright laws, they were unable to have them created. However, she said, her husband will be wearing suspenders that are half OSU and half MSU.
She said she’ll be rooting for both her nephews on Saturday.
“Justin at OSU is my godchild,” she said. “So I think I’ll be rooting for both of them. We know Kyle will be playing more, and we don’t know if Justin will get into the game or not.
“We are all super excited to seeing them play the game,” she said.
The game tips off at noon and will be broadcast on Fox TV. Locally it will be shown on Dayton’s WRGT – channel 45, which is channel 8 on Spectrum TV.