The team hotel for the Bradley Braves in West Des Moines, Iowa during their NCAA appearance is decked out with the Bradley “B” and plenty of red and white.
And while fans arrived Wednesday night to check in and/or pick up their NCAA tickets, they were entertained by the Bradley band. The fans are more than ready for the 1:45 Thursday tipoff to the Braves’ matchup with Michigan State.
“This is so great to be back in the NCAA (Tournament),” said Craig Thompson of Trivoli. “This is a really important step for Bradley basketball.”
This is Bradley’s ninth overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament, and first since the Braves’ 2006 Sweet 16 run. Among the fans picking up tickets for Thursday’s game was Patrick O’Bryant, a member of that Sweet 16 team.
Michigan State, meanwhile is making its 22nd straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, the third longest active streak in the nation behind Kansas (30) and Duke (24).
“It’s really good to get the whole community excited. It’s contagious,” Thompson said. “You get this much excitement it will build for next year and the year after that.”
Roger Broyhill attended the games during the Sweet 16 year and says he sees some similarities.
“I think so. They both had slow starts and strong finishes,” Broyhill said.
Broyhill was on hand earlier Wednesday at Wells Fargo Arena to see the Braves practice that was open to the public along with the other teams that have arrived in Des Moines.
“I thought ours was the most organized practice of all of them,” Broyhill said.
Former Peoria TV weatherman Lee Ranson also picked up his tickets for Thursday’s game.
“The Bradley Braves are fantastic,” said Ranson, who reminisced about him and friend seeing their first Bradley game in person when he was nine-years-old.
“I’ve been a Bradley fan since. Obviously that’s been a long time because I’m a little bit more than nine-years-old now,” Ranson said.
Dave Gravlin just happened to arrive at the hotel as the Bradley band was performing.
“That was totally unexpected,” Gravlin said. “I was looking for the team behind us or ahead of us or something. It was nice.”
Gravlin said he hopes the team can maintain the momentum from winning its Missouri Valley Conference championship.
“It sure was a fantastic finish down in St. Louis. Hopefully we can keep it going,” Gravlin said.
Thompson says he is aware Bradley has been tabbed as much as an 18 or 19 point underdog for its first round matchup.
“If we can do anything to give (Michigan State) a hard-fought battle all the way through the game I think that’s a win for Bradley,” Thompson said. “Obviously I’d like to see us win and advance, but to play respectable basketball, I think we’re very capable of doing that.”
Bradley band at team hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Posted by 1470 WMBD on Wednesday, March 20, 2019