Aggies go dancing

HANNAH LEE / AGGIE

Men’s basketball team ushers in new era of relevance

As a university that has been around for almost 110 years, UC Davis rarely gets to see a school “first” anymore.

That changed Saturday.

With a narrow 50-47 victory over UC Irvine on March 11, the UC Davis men’s basketball team won its first Big West Conference tournament championship, clinching UC Davis’ first ever spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Aggies, who had finished in second in the conference during the regular season, beat a UC Irvine team that had secured the regular season conference crown by beating UC Davis by 30 points just a week earlier.

The Aggies landed Monday in Dayton, Ohio to play against North Carolina Central in one of the tournament’s “First Four” games on March 15. The winner will earn a 16 seed in the tournament and will have the dubious privilege of taking on regional top seed Kansas, who finished the regular season 28-4 and ranked third in the country. For reference, number 1 seeds are 128-0 against 16 seeds since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Nonetheless, the Editorial Board is proud of the team’s accomplishment. We applaud head coach Jim Les for ushering in an era of relevance to the program, which has now won over 20 games in two of the last three seasons, having gone unbeaten at home and advancing to postseason play in each of those instances. We also hope that, with the increase in school spirit and national prominence that has coincided with the Aggies’ nationally-televised home game earlier this month and their playoff run thus far, this interest in UC Davis athletics continues into next year and future years down the road.

So, Aggies: Change your profile picture on Facebook to include the special NCAA Tournament filter, show up to a viewing party on Wednesday to watch the Aggies take on the Eagles and carry that enthusiasm into Friday’s (hopeful) matchup against Kansas. Even if the Aggies cannot pull off the spectacular upset over the Jayhawks, UC Davis fans can take solace that it is 30 degrees in Lawrence, Kansas at press time, compared to the sunny 76 degrees in Davis.

This team is all about “firsts” right now. Let’s see if the Aggies can make one more of them by pulling off an upset for the ages. Either way, congratulations to the UC Davis men’s basketball team on a memorable run. We at The Aggie wish you the best of luck.