Men's Basketball To Face Evansville In Arch Madness Opener
The Drake University men’s basketball team begins Missouri Valley Conference Tournament play on Thursday evening when the eighth-seeded Bulldogs face ninth-seeded Evansville at 6:05 p.m. at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Thursday’s game will be televised on MVC TV affiliates and on ESPN3 outside of the MVC footprint.
The Bulldogs begin Arch Madness with three wins in their last five games to improve to 15-15 overall and 6-12 in the MVC. Evansville travels to St. Louis on a two-game win streak that includes a win over Drake, to begin postseason play at 13-18 overall and 6-12 in the MVC.
The winner of Thursday’s first-round game will advance to face top-seeded Wichita State on Friday at 12:05 p.m.
“You control your own destiny and we need to focus on Evansville because that’s the task at hand,” said Drake head coach Ray Giacoletti. “I think teams believe that everybody is back to 0-0 and you have to go out on the floor and prove yourself for 40 minutes. It’s a little bit different mindset than you may have in regular-season play.”
Drake and Evansville split the regular-season series with the Bulldogs earning a 94-66 win in Des Moines but suffering a 61-48 loss at Evansville that was just one of two losses Drake suffered in the final five games. In each of the three wins during that span, Drake scored 70 or more points and averaged 1.15 points per possession a trend the team will aim to continue in advancing in tournament play.
“If you win, you survive and play for another day,” Giacoletti said. “You try to tell your guys to play each game as if it was your last opportunity and this time of year it very well could be so you want to give your best effort.”
Drake is 17-34 all-time in the MVC Tournament after going 1-1 last season as the No. 9 seed. With a win in this season’s opening round, the team can guarantee itself a .500 or better record in Giacoletti’s first year at the helm of the program.
“I’m really poud of our guys buying into a new system with a new staff,” Giacoletti said. “Finishing strong with a good taste in your mouth just helps propel you into the next season.”