This is exactly the scenario that the Drexel men’s basketball team wanted to avoid. After winning 27 games with only 6 losses on the season, including their last 19 in a row, the Dragons lost in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game last night to VCU, 59-56.
So instead of getting an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for winning their conference tournament title, the countdown to Selection Sunday begins for the Drexel Dragons.
No matter that Drexel won the CAA regular season title outright.
No matter that they held the nation’s second longest winning streak.
No matter that, until last night, they looked like a lock for that automatic bid.
The decision on whether Drexel will participate in the NCAA Tournament or whether they will stay at home lies solely in the hands of the Selection Committee. Drexel will have to wait almost 130 hours to discover their fate this Selection Sunday.
The case for Drexel deserving a bid is obvious. They won 27 games. They won the CAA regular season title. They reached the conference championship game, losing by only 3 to another team that won 28 games.
Unfortunately, the case against the Dragons is daunting. They have a low RPI of 67 and a very low 251st ranked Strength of Schedule. Their only top-100 wins came over VCU (who they lost to last night), George Mason, Cleveland State and Princeton, while they had lowly losses to Norfolk State, Georgia State and Delaware.
As of now, ESPN.com’s NCAA Tournament pundit Joe Lundardi still believes that Drexel will earn an at-large bid to the tournament, but a lot depends on what happens over the next week. The best that Drexel can hope for now is that other surprise teams don’t win their conference over at-large locks (i.e. St. Joe’s winning the A-10 over Temple), thereby stealing an at-large bid away.
It’s going to be a tough few days for the Drexel Dragons’ players, coaches and family, so here are some supportive words for the team’s NCAA bid, courtesy of ESPN.com’s Bubble Watch:
It’s hard not to be impressed by a team with a 25-2 record since Dec. 10, no matter the competition. That’s an incredible mark, perhaps second in mid-majordom only to Murray State’s ridiculous season. And many of the same arguments that have applied to Murray State — “they can only win the games on their schedule!” and so on — might just as well apply here. The arguments will rage hot and bright, but hey: It wouldn’t be the first week of March without a good argument about a mid-major at-large team. Stay tuned.