Kent State vs. Akron Comes Down to Fierce Competition and a Wagon Wheel

It’s that time of year when the Kent State Golden Flashes and the Akron Zips basketball teams go head-to-head in a historic rivalry that is fueled by fierce competition, bragging rights and local folklore. The women's basketball team defeated the Zips 57-55 at James A. Rhodes Arena on Wednesday and soon it will be the men's turn. 

The Flashes will play The School Down the Road on Feb. 3 for the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge contest. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. at Akron’s James A. Rhodes Arena. The game will air on ESPNU. 

For those who aren’t from these parts, let’s explain the origin of the Wagon Wheel.  

Legend has it that the "Wagon Wheel" trophy traces its beginnings to the spring of 1870 when Akron industrialist John R. Buchtel set out for the town of Kent in search of a site to establish a college. It was muddy in the Ohio fields and his wagon became stuck in the area where Kent State University is now located. 

When horses pulled the wagon, a wheel came off and became buried, not to be discovered until 1902, during the construction of a pipeline along the Western Reserve Trail.  

Dr. Raymond Manchester, Kent State dean of men, acquired the wagon wheel and, in 1945, suggested the local historic artifact be given as the trophy to the winner of the annual Kent State – Akron football game.  

Since the 2011-12 academic year, the rivalry was broadened to include 14 varsity sports, with victories in each sport adding one point to the challenge standings.  

Through the 2020 game, Kent State leads the series at 25–24–1 in Wagon Wheel games. Dating to 1923, Akron leads the all-time series on the gridiron, 35-26-2.   

If you have questions about tickets for this historic rivalry, email or call 330-672-4455. 

For more information on the men's basketball team, follow Kent State Men's Basketball on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and visit for additional updates. 




POSTED: Wednesday, February 1, 2023 03:57 PM
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2023 01:07 PM
April McClellan-Copeland