Drake was the last March Madness at-large team, but on Thursday night, they proved they belonged with a stubborn 53-52 win over Wichita State in the First Four.
The No. 11 seeded Bulldogs (26-4) advance to Saturday afternoon’s first round against No. 6 seed USC (22-7) in the West Region. Drake’s 1-point win over the Shockers fell short of the -2 to -2.5 needed for its bet supporters — and anyone who bet the over was left wanting.
None of that matters to Drake coach Darian DeVries. He guided the Bulldogs to their first NCAA Tournament win in 50 years. DeVries told reporters:
“It’s been a long time, and our guys knew that. Getting the opportunity to be here, it’s something these kids dream about. To get a win for our program that hasn’t happened in 50 years, it’s really exciting. These guys have fought through so much, and for them to be the ones who were able to get us a win, I think it’s really deserving.”
Betting odds don’t look good for Drake
Bettors aren’t as confident about Drake’s chances in the next round. The team will be solid under-Bulldogs against the Trojans. FanDuel said USC drew 71% of the bets and 78% of the money in the first 12 hours after Drake earned its spot in the matchup. About 90% of FanDuel’s bettors think USC will move on.
The Trojans were a 6-point favorite Friday afternoon but check back with PlayIA.com for the latest odds Saturday. The tip is at 3:30 p.m. at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. TNT has the game:
USC vs. Drake March Madness odds
Drake last played USC in 1975 and came away with an 80-70 win en route to the now-defunct Commissioner’s Conference Playoffs championship.
Why USC is favored
The Trojans are led likely by NBA lottery pick Evan Mobley, who averages 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.0 blocks. He earned Pac-12 “Player of the Year” honors for his performance. USC reached the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. A put-back dunk by D’Shawn Schwartz with 3.1 seconds left gave Colorado a 72-70 win in that game.
Drake reached the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament final but fell to Loyola Chicago 75-65 in St. Louis. They received a First Four bid on Sunday and verified the selection with Thursday’s win.
“I’m really excited for our guys and for our program. It wasn’t the prettiest game in the world, but I thought our guys really had to show some resiliency to hang with it in both halves — when we got down double-digits and didn’t have anything going offensively. They continued to stay with it and believe in one another and pull out a very hard-fought game.”