DAVIS (CBS13) — The NBA champs the Cleveland Cavaliers were on TV Sunday at Woodstock’s Pizza in downtown Davis. But come Wednesday, it will be UC Davis on TV, making a run at college sports history.
“It’s huge! For the first time for this school, this program to be going to the tournament,” said Gurtej Bhattal, an engineering student at UC Davis. He was at Woodstock’s, which will broadcast all the UC Davis games.
Like others, Bhattal knows there is more than just basketball at stake as the Aggies make their first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament.
“To put us on map in the sports world, the sports map. That’s really big. We can then more recruits. It’s like a stepping stone that could lead to bigger and better things, said Bhattal.
The next big thing will be the team’s first game against on Wednesday. The players learned of their opponents at an event on event campus on Sunday afternoon. They will face North Carolina Central University on Wednesday in Dayton. The winner goes on to play the top-seed Kansas on Friday in Tulsa.
Coach Jim Les says his team has worked hard and he is proud at a chance at basketball sports history. “March Madness is one of the elite sporting events in our nation. I am proud of the hard work these young men put in, and to be representing UC Davis and the Sacramento region in the tournament,” said Les.
“I think it’s great for the community of Davis, for the students, and us. It’s for everyone. To put UC Davis on the map,” said Guard Brynton Lemar. He ranks third in three-point percentage and No. 10 in three-point field goals in Big West play.
UC Davis transitioned to Division I status in 2004. They joined the Big West in 2007. Saturday night, they had a big win against top-seeded UC Irvine to win the Big West championship. That landed them an automatic bid to the big dance.
For many students, the national exposure is just as a big a win for the campus and the community.
“Being in such a big sporting event that people follow nationally is Huge! People are going to be paying attention to our town,” said Amanda Glenn, a fifth-year Ph.D. student.
In a statement to CBS13, Director of Athletics, Kevin Blue, said:
“This is a significant achievement and a great opportunity for our men’s basketball team and our university as a whole. Participation in a major national event like the NCAA tournament will help people throughout the country learn more about the breadth of excellence occurring at UC Davis.”