Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University basketball team earned the 12th seed in the 2008 NCAA Tournament and will face No. 5 seed Drake — the Missouri Valley Conference’s regular season and tournament champion — in a first-round West Region contest Friday, it was announced Sunday night.
The tip-off time for the match-up in Tampa, Fla., is still to be determined.
The Hilltoppers, who are 27-6 and finished 16-2 in the Sun Belt Conference, earned the league’s automatic bid by claiming the SBC Tournament title with a 67-57 victory over Middle Tennessee Tuesday in Mobile, Ala. WKU has won 17 of its last 18 outings, including six in a row.
It’s the 20th time that the Toppers have participated in the NCAA Tournament and fourth occasion this decade, although this will be the first time that WKU has qualified for the field since 2003.
The Bulldogs are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1971 after posting a 28-4 overall mark while winning the MVC championship by two games with a 15-3 record. Drake is ranked 16th in this week’s Associated Press poll as well as 18th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ rankings.
The winner of the WKU-DU contest will advance to face the winner of the game between No. 4 Connecticut and 13th-seeded San Diego on Sunday.
The WKU Athletic Ticket Office will be taking priority orders — either in person at E.A. Diddle Arena from 8-4:30 p.m. (CDT) or over the phone at 1-800-5-BIG-RED — until 4:30 p.m. Monday. A maximum of four tickets may be purchased, with individuals who receive first-round tickets required to purchase tickets for the second round as well if WKU advances. The cost is $66 per ticket, with a $4 processing fee for each order.
All tickets will be awarded based on Hilltopper Athletic Foundation priority points.
The HAF will also have a limited number of hotel rooms available. For more information contact the HAF at 270-745-5321.