Why You Were Meant to Root for Drake
Do you believe in miracles? If you want to root for a team that started from the bottom and climbed into the spotlight, look no further than the Drake Bulldogs.
Drake's Tourney History
Existing for over a century, the Drake men's basketball program has made the NCAA tournament four times. Its last visit, and only one since 1971, ended swiftly with a first-round loss to No. 12 seed Western Kentucky in 2008.
After losing the Missouri Valley Conference championship game to Loyola, Drake wasn't guaranteed to snap that drought. Entering Selection Sunday on the bubble, the 25-4 Bulldogs received an at-large bid. An 18-0 start and eye-popping offensive numbers warranted a spot on the dance card.
This Year's Best Players
It's an all-hands-on-deck approach in Des Moines, Iowa. Five players average double-digit points per game, but two of those key seniors are out of action.
Point guard Roman Penn is out for the season with a foot injury. Forward ShanQuan Hemphill, who leads the team in points per game, hasn't played since breaking his foot February 10.
Sophomore guard Joseph Yesufu and senior forward Tremell Murphy have picked up the scoring slack in significantly elevated roles, but Drake's depth has taken a massive hit. This underdog is climbing a steep uphill battle.
Why They're Going to Win
Drake might not be the best team in its small conference. It's also not the best team from Iowa and certainly not the most ferocious squad to carry the Bulldogs nickname into the Big Dance. That last honor belongs to top-ranked Gonzaga.
They also may have benefited from some good fortune that expired at an inopportune time. And maybe they'll struggle when forced to swim in a much larger pond.
But hey, sometimes you just need a seat at the table to prove you belong.
This could be Drake's chance for the best run it's ever had—yes, there will be many bad puns related to the rapper. Nobody knows when the next opportunity will come, so it's now or never to shock the world.