The Dragons failed to make the NCAA tournament after a regular season that saw 27 wins and the Colonial Athletic Association championship. They, perhaps, are the most notable omission in the 68-team field.
It would have been Drexel's first tournament since 1996. Instead, it will play in the NIT.
The Dragons won 19 straight games before losing to VCU in the CAA championship game. But coach Bruiser Flint says the team will have to win 30 straight next season.
Flint says the Dragons will have to schedule tougher teams to raise their RPI. He knew the possibility of an at-large bid was over when he saw fellow bubble team Iona in the field.
The Dragons are 27-6 and will play in the NIT for the first time since 2007. So, all is not lost.
“We wanted to play in their tournament,” Flint said. “They didn't let us.”
Temple (24-7) was allowed in. It earned a No. 5 seed, and will play the winner of the play-in game Wednesday between No. 12 seeds California (24-9) and South Florida (20-13) in the Midwest Region. The Owls will open the tournament in Nashville, Tenn. Led by coach Fran Dunphy, Temple won the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship and is in the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight season. Temple won a second-round game last season.
The Owls are coming off a disappointing loss to Massachusetts in the A-10 tournament, and haven't won more than one game in the NCAA since they advanced to the regional final in 2001 under former coach John Chaney.
It was a down year for Pennsylvania teams. Lehigh, which defeated Bucknell in an upset Wednesday to win the Patriot League tournament title, landed a No. 15 seed, and will play Duke in the second round. The Mountain Hawks (26-7) went 11-3 in conference this season, and defeated Colgate, American, and the Bison to win the tournament.
They will now head to Greensboro, N.C., to take on the Blue Devils, who were given a No. 2 seed after not advancing to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game.
Bridging the regular season with the postseason, Lehigh is riding an eight-game winning streak into the matchup, and hasn't lost since a 71-62 defeat at American on Feb. 9.
They'll have to carry the state banner, while the Dragons watch. Drexel finished 13-0 at home, but can blame the lowly RPI and a strength of schedule well over 200 for the omission.
“I guess we've got to play some tougher games, whether we win them or lose them,” Flint said. “I guess that's what they're telling me. No matter whether you win or lose, just put someone on the schedule who has a decent RPI.”
Drexel has been down this thorny path before, going 23-9 in 2006-07. That team had a major non-conference win at No. 23 Syracuse. But it didn't matter.
“We had all the numbers in the last one,” Flint said. “Now, we don't have the numbers. And in the end, we're getting the same result. So you have to ask yourself, what do you want us to do?”
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