Drake men’s basketball earned a spot in March Madness.
This is the first time in thirteen years that Drake University will be making an appearance into the tournament. Drake has had a successful season so far with much more damage to still be done.
The Bulldogs won eighteen straight games this season. Men’s basketball even had to postpone their season due to some positive test results. After being in quarantine, they were able to come back and get some more wins contributing towards their 18-0 wins. Drake went into the Missouri Valley conference as the 2nd seed in the tournament.
Drake was first supposed to play University of Northern Iowa, but due to a positive Covid result from UNI, Drake advanced to the next round of the tournament. The Bulldogs then took on Missouri State in the next round where they won that game 71-69, allowing them to move into the finals of the tournament. Drake faced Loyola University in the finals. After a tough fight, Drake lost 75-65.
Since the Bulldogs did not win the tournament, they did not receive a secure spot in the NCAA. Instead, they had to wait about a week to see if they would get a bid for the tournament. On March 14 Drake found out that they did get a play in spot into the tournament.
After thirteen years without a tournament entry, Drake would take on Wichita State on March 18.
This is sophomore DJ Wilkins’ first time competing in the tournament and he is ready for the opportunity.
“This is my first time playing in the NCAA tournament and it is a dream come true. Playing in this tournament is something that you always thought about. It is extra special that we are able to compete in the tournament because we play at Drake,” Wilkins said. “Since Drake is a smaller school, it makes it a little harder to be able to get in. Since we have the chance, we are going to try and make the most of our time at the tournament and create the best opportunity possible.”
Drake took on Wichita State Thursday in a close game. After being down several times in the game Drake managed to get a lead towards the end of the second half, and pull out a win 53-52, allowing the Bulldogs to advance into the first round of the tournament.
Students on campus were excited for the basketball team to be in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
First-year Mac Pursell was excited to see the team play.
“I think they’ve built up a certain confidence and momentum that will fuel the energy needed against USC,” Pursell said prior to the matchup. “Although the team feels extremely confident at the moment, it’s important to continue to respect the competition and to not underestimate the Trojans going into the next game so they maintain focus and execution.”
Sophomore Kendall Hunt is proud of Drake for getting into the tournament and is looking forward to everything they accomplish.
“I am beyond excited that Drake made it to the tournament,” Hunt said. “It is such a huge accomplishment, and I’m rooting for them to go all the way.”
The Bulldogs continued in the tournament and took on USC on Saturday, where they lost and their run came to an end. Though it was short lived, the team and its surrounding community had a remarkable season and look to continue their successes in future seasons.