NCAA First Round 1:15 PM: Drexel Dragons back in ‘Big Dance’ for first time since 1996 playing Illinois


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The long awaited return to the NCAA Tournament is over. The Drexel men’s basketball team will be back on the national stage on Friday afternoon when the Dragons face top-seeded Illinois in the opening round of the NCAA Midwest Region. The Illini enter the game ranked second in the nation with a 23-6 record. They won the Big Ten Championship. The Dragons are 12-7 after winning the CAA title. Tip-off is at 1:15 p.m. at Farmers Coliseum. Drexel’s postseason is presented by GIANT.

The Dragons are making their first appearance in the Big Dance since the 1996 team defeated Memphis before falling to Syracuse in the second round. Drexel has played very well over the last month, winning five of six and shooting the ball at a high percentage both from the field and from deep. Camren WynterZach WaltonMate Okros and James Butler all had big games at the Colonial Athletic Association Championships. Xavier Bell, a newcomer to the starting line-up, was also in double figures in the title game against Elon.

The Illini are picked to advance to the Final Four by a number of the so-called experts. They have a deep offensive team led by Ayo Dosunmo, who shoots 38 percent from deep and averages 20.7 points. Big man Kofi Cockburn averages 17.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and shoots 65 percent from the floor.

Friday will be the first meeting between the two schools. The winner of Friday’s game will face either Loyola of Chicago or Georgia Tech on Sunday.


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