For the first time since 2005, the UCF Knights are going to the Big Dance.
The Knights received their at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night and are the No. 9 seed in the East Region.
They will face the No. 8 seed VCU Rams in the first round on Friday in Columbia, South Carolina.
It’s the Knights’ fifth-ever trip to the NCAAs, and the first time in school history UCF has been invited as an at-large team. The Knights are still looking for the program’s first tournament victory. If they claim it Friday, they will more than likely move on to face the field’s No. 1 overall seed, the Duke Blue Devils.
That game would pit Johnny Dawkins against his alma mater and Mike Krzyzewski, whom Dawkins coached alongside for 10 years.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The Rams are the regular-season champion out of the Atlantic 10 and went 16-2 in conference this year. While UCF is making its first NCAA showing in almost 15 years, VCU is going to its eighth tournament in nine years. The Knights and the Rams have never played each other.
Sunday was also a good day for the American Athletic Conference as a whole. The AAC got four teams into the tournament: UCF, No. 3 Houston Cougars, No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats and No. 11 Temple Owls, who were one of the last four teams in to the field. It’s the third time in the conference’s six-year existance that four teams are NCAA Tournament-bound.
BGB will have plenty more on Friday’s matchup in the days ahead. But for now, UCF fans everywhere should celebrate tonight. Making the tournament is the ultimate goal for most of the teams in the field, UCF included. It is the foremost goal that players such as B.J. Taylor, Chad Brown and Tacko Fall have been trying to achieve for the past four years.
Achievement, unlocked. Time to dance.