Students and faculty shared a positive reaction after the NCAA announced last October that the men’s basketball tournament, March Madness, will return to Des Moines at the Wells Fargo Arena in 2023 with Drake University hosting the first and second rounds.
With the wrap-up of Drake Hoops Fest and a highly anticipated men’s basketball season, Drake basketball looks forward to the following year as March Madness makes its way to Des Moines.
The 2023 tournament will be the third time that Des Moines has hosted the tournament for its first and second rounds in recent years.
March Madness is an event that draws the attention of millions of viewers. The Drake athletic faculty have shown pride in Des Moines and believe that Des Moines will satisfy the venue needs that the tournament demands.
“We know we have a hidden jewel with downtown Des Moines and Central Iowa, so being able to share it with the world is really exciting and rewarding,” said Drake director of athletics Brian Hardin.
With hosting this significant sporting event, Drake will be brought into the spotlight of college basketball and spectators around the United States watching their teams. Despite this pressure, faculty has expressed confidence in hosting an event like this.
“I think with this being the second time around for us, we will be better prepared in some areas we struggled with in 2019,” Hardin said.
While the athletic department has expressed excitement, members of the basketball team said they are honored that the NCAA chose Drake as a spot for the tournament.
“It’s pretty special,” said sophomore forward Jordan Kwiecinski. “Us young guys on the team were all pretty hyped since we have the chance to play in our own city.”
The basketball team has gained experience on what the tournament is like in the previous year, as they were able to make it to the first round. Now, they are seeking to return for the next two years for a chance to play in front of a home crowd.
“I think we got a really good chance to make it back,” Kwiecinski said. “We’ve got a taste of what it’s like and great senior leadership to prepare us.”
Drake students will be able to have access to the games and the possibility of seeing their basketball team firsthand.
“As a Drake student, it is thrilling to be put on the map like this,” said sophomore Patrick Lucas. “I came in as a freshman with no clue that our basketball team would achieve the level of notability they did. I would say the team deserves it for their hard work and dedication.”
After a successful run with a tournament appearance the previous season, Drake students have high hopes that the basketball team’s success will continue.
“Seeing our men’s basketball team make it into March Madness gave me a large sense of pride,” said sophomore Zach Rosenberger. “Seeing our guys on ESPN, playing big-name teams, and having a prominent role in the sports world feels awesome.”
With around a year and a half until March Madness makes its way to Des Moines, the anticipation will be significant as students, players, and faculty wait patiently for the day to arrive.