Drake Bulldogs (28-4) vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (27-6)
When: Friday, 12:15 p.m.
1. Where Did You Come From? Drake graduated four starters last year - Al Stewart, Aliou Kieta, Nick Grant and Ajay Calvin. It would have been five graduating starters had Klayton Korver not medically redshirt his junior year. Enter Josh Young, Adam Emmenecker, Jonathon Cox and Leonard Houston. Not surprisingly, Drake wasn't expected to do all that well this year. Instead of the 9th place finish that was the preseason prediction for the Bulldogs, they locked up the No. 1 Seed for the MVC Tournament for the first time in school history.
2. The Shooting Korvers Kinda like the Flying Wallendas or the Catching Molinas. Drake senior Klayton Korver is the younger brother of the Utah Jazz's Kyle. Third brother Kaleb is a freshman on the Creighton Blue Jays (as was Kyle). Youngest brother Kirk is still in high school, and as usual the youngest is supposed to be the best one of the group. That is, if you don't count their mother, Laine Korver, who scored 74 points in a high school game.
3. A Bit of a Dry Spell In 1969, Drake lost bythree3 points in the Final Four to a UCLA team led by Lew Alcindor that went on to beat UNC in the Consolation Game. After making the Elite Eight each of the next two years, Drake has been a bit of a stranger to the postseason. Those three years are the only times in school history that the Bulldogs have appeared in the NCAA Tournament. Elsewhere in the world of sports the last time Drake went dancing? Super Bowl V, Frazier-Ali I, and Pete Sampras was born. — Andrew McGuire
WESTERN KENTUCKY HILLTOPPERS
1. There's Only One Big Red! While a number of other schools claim to be the Big Red, there is only one mascot that fits the bill ... our Big Red. He's without a doubt the most famous alumnus of our school. He's been featured in ESPN's "This is SportsCenter" commercials, and some of those silly Capital One Mascot commercials. More important, Big Red recently attempted to start an International dispute with the ItalianTV star, Gabibbo. Gabibbo is Big Red's long lost brother. Rather than nurturing our international brethren, we did what all Americans would do ... we sued him. You heard me, we sued the Italian Big Bird. You should also know that the TV station (along with most) that owns Gabibbo is owned by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. I don't need to tell you how this ended. I'm betting our court-appointed attorneys didn't speak Italian.
2. Why do we need Big Red? Because our nickname is the Hilltoppers. People associated with WKU take great pride in the fact that we have an original nickname. We are the only Hilltoppers in Division I NCAA Athletics. Interestingly, there is nothing remotely intimidating about our nickname or mascot. We're lovers, not fighters! So, what does a Hilltopper look like? Well, we couldn't figure it out, so an ingenious student named Ralph Carey created Big Red in 1979. I guess we could have gone the route of the West Virginia Mountaineer, but we have enough crazy dudes with beards and rifles around these parts. We don't want one representing our school.
3. Let's meet the Toppers. One player stands firmly above the rest ... Courtney Lee. His name might sound feminine, but he's a MANBABY! He's been our all-everything man for a couple of seasons now, currently sitting at No. 2 on the all-time scoring list. He has a real shot at reaching No. 1, especially if we can pull a George Mason (we made the Final Four in 1971). Mr. Lee's backcourt mate Tyrone Brazleton is the catalyst, jump-starting our offense whenever possible. These two will score the majority of our points. Well, they better or we have issues. Let's see; we have a senior-laden team with strong backcourt play ... sounds like a recipe for an upset tome. We relish the underdog role; after all, we did try to sue the former Italian Prime Minister remember. — Drew Hensley