WACO, TX — The Baylor Bears are going dancing!
"Today, like being in the last bracket, "they didn't forget about us, right?!" So, it's great that you know where you're going, who you're playing and most of all see the excitement on the guys' faces and know that all their hardwork was worth it to achieve a goal like this," Baylor Head Coach Scott Drew said.
Baylor is headed to Salt Lake City as a No. 9 seed and will face No. 8 Syracuse in the first round. They're in the West Region of the bracket.
Senior King McClure is glad to have one final shot at the big dance after Baylor missed out last year.
But, for Division III transfer Freddie Gillespie, days like Sunday are what he's been dreaming of since he was just a kid.
"My last Division III, we didn't make the Division III NCAA tournament, and I was so upset, like near tears. My mom was like, hey you know, depending on how this plays out, you might get to an even bigger NCAA tournament than Division III," Gillespie, Bears' redshirt junior forward, said. "So, just to see it all come together, it's amazing."
The Bears finished fourth in the Big 12 with a record of 10-8 in conference play, 19-13 overall. But, Baylor was picked to finish second-to-last in the Big 12 at the beginning of the season.
Despite all the injuries and having to rebuild the team over and over, the Bears were bound and determined to prove everyone who doubted them wrong... which is why Makai Mason will be playing come Thursday.
"It's a pretty amazing feeling to have it all culminate into the moment that we just had seeing our name go up there," Mason, Bears' redshirt senior guard, said. "This team's been doubted all year and with the injuries and everything... just guys being out, it really shows the true character of this team... to fight every game throughout the season, continue to get better and be where we are right now."
Tip off for the Bears' round one game is set for 8:57 p.m. CT on Thursday. It will air on Tru TV.