Drexel Wins CAA Title, Clinches 1st NCAA Tournament Berth Since 1996

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

Drexel forward T.J. Bickerstaff (23) shoots over Elon forward Simon Wright (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the Colonial Athletic Association men's tournament championship in Harrisonburg, Va., Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Lin)
Daniel Lin/Associated Press

The Drexel Dragons are going dancing for the first time in 25 years.  

Drexel clinched its first NCAA men's tournament appearance since 1996 with a 63-56 victory over Elon in Tuesday's CAA championship game. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports noted "it's been so long, Drexel's last appearance came when it was in a league that no longer exists (North Atlantic Conference)."

CBS Sports Network @CBSSportsNet

Cue the celebration!! For the first time since 1996 @DrexelMBB is heading to the NCAA Tournament! The Dragons come up huge down the stretch to take down Elon in the @CAABasketball Championship. https://t.co/J7fe1ziMsF

The Dragons were anything but favorites heading into the tournament as the No. 6 seed.

However, they upset third-seeded Charleston in the quarterfinals, stunned second-seeded Northeastern in the semifinals and benefited some from Elon's previous upset of top-seeded James Madison. Elon was the No. 8 seed in the tournament.

The Dragons used a strong defensive effort to clinch their bid and held the Phoenix to 4-of-19 (21.1 percent) from three-point range. They also had a balanced offensive attack with seven players scoring at least six points and nobody scoring more than 14.

Mate Okros led the way with those 14 points off the bench, while Xavier Bell added 11 points.

Camren Wynter, who led Drexel in scoring during the regular season, scored eight points on 3-of-12 shooting from the field, but his team overcame his struggles by locking in on the defensive side of the floor.

Drexel will surely be outmatched in the first round of the NCAA tournament if it lands a No. 15 or 16 seed, but it played the role of underdog quite well in the conference tournament and will try to shock the world at the Big Dance.