Frank Elegar remembers watching the NCAA tournament selection show. He kept waiting to see the name Drexel appear on television. But the name never popped up.
After 23 victories and 13 on the road — including wins at Syracuse, Villanova and Creighton — the Dragons were snubbed by the tournament committee in 2006-07. Five years later, it still hurts.
“For me, it was maybe one of the worst feelings I ever felt as a player waiting around and the cameras are on you the whole time,” Elegar recalled from Turkey, where he is playing professionally. “We thought we were in back in ’07, and just thought what region and seed they were going to place us.
“We saw two fellow CAA teams get in and my nerves were uneasy because I had the worst feeling in the bottom of my stomach that we weren’t going to get in when I saw Old Dominion get in over us. I honestly cried that night and was not looking for another NIT trip.”
Elegar averaged 16.3 points as a junior, but had to settle for an NIT berth and eventual loss to N.C. State. Drexel hasn’t been invited to the Big Dance since 1996.
Fast forward to 2011-12 and the Dragons are in the same predicament as Elegar’s team. They had a 19-game winning streak snapped Monday night and fell 59-56 to VCU in the title game of the CAA tournament. Now, they must wait for Sunday’s selection show.
Since the NCAA expanded the tournament field to 64 teams in ‘85, only one team has won at least 27 games and not been invited — that was Coastal Carolina in 2010.
The Dragons are 27-6.
“Hopefully, the committee looks at the fact we have been rolling the last two months and we are probably the hottest team in America that no one has been talking about besides Dick Vitale,” Elegar said. “The level Bru [coach Bruiser Flint] has these guys playing at is incredible, so regardless if they are in or out, it was a special year for them because not everyone goes to the conference championship or wins 19 in a row or even sees postseason action.”
Drexel passes eye test, but is that enough?
Drexel’s loss to VCU Monday night may have sealed their NCAA tournament — again.
The Dragons (27-6) have only lost two games since Dec. 3. They also beat five 20-win teams.
However, they have just one win versus the RPI Top 50 and three versus teams ranked between 51 and 100. Drexel’s strength of schedule is a dismal 251.
Joe Lunardi, the famed ESPN bracketologist and St. Joseph’s alum, has Drexel in the Big Dance.
Drexel was listed as one of his “Last Four In” yesterday, joining Northwestern, Seton Hall and Xavier. Lunardi has the Dragons in the South Bracket competing in a play-in game versus Northwestern.