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Grand Canyon HC Bryce Drew strongly believes in team vs. Saint Mary’s

© Patrick Breen/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 2023-24 WAC champions Grand Canyon University have officially booked their ticket to the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, aka “March Madness.”

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In doing so, the Lopes (29-4) are the No. 12 seed and will play No. 5 Saint Mary’s (26-7) on Friday night in Spokane, Washington.

When speaking to the media Tuesday afternoon, GCU head coach Bryce Drew was ecstatic about getting to this stage of the season but knows there is still more work to be done.

“It’s really exciting, this group’s been looking forward to postseason time all year and now it is finally upon them,” Drew said. “This is what they came here for, this is what they have been working for since last spring.”

“I think they are all ready to play,” Drew said. “This is where dreams come true, childhood dreams of them wanting to play in the tournament. The biggest thing for us is to try and have the best preparation that we can so they can go out and execute.”

GCU took down UT Arlington 89-74 on Saturday, taking home the conference title. Guard Tyon Grant-Foster led the Lopes with 22 points and nine assists in GCU’s victory.

Calming the Nerves

Going from being crowned the WAC champions to entering March Madness can be a daunting task for some players.

Bright lights, massive media presence, playing best-on-best basketball and more can be factors that they will have to deal with.

Talking about whether he believes nerves will play a role, Drew believes his team has been in high-stakes situations and big arenas before to be able to fight through this level of adversity.

“Good experience helps,” Drew said. “I think our guys will be used to it but there is always that little bit of excitement. Hopefully it doesn’t come out in a way that we turn it [the ball] over and miss shots. Hopefully we can play our game from the tip.”

On Friday, the game between GCU and Saint Mary’s tips off at 7:05 p.m. PST on TruTV.

Whoever is the victor, they will face the winner of No. 4 Alabama (21-11) vs. No. 13 Charleston (27-7).

Grand Canyon set to face Saint Mary’s to open NCAA Tournament

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Reporter Alec Cipollini covers Phoenix Sports News for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his X account, @AlecCipollini

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