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Photos: Drake Bulldogs will go dancing after capturing MVC Arch Madness championship

Members of the Drake Bulldogs team celebrate winning the the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves and punching their ticket to the national March Madness tournament on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the Drake Bulldogs men's basketball team celebrate winning the Missouri Valley Conference's Arch Madness championship against the Bradley Braves and punching their ticket to the 2023 NCAA March Madness tournament on Sunday at Enterprise Center.

The Drake Bulldogs men's basketball team will go dancing in this year's NCAA March Madness tournament after capturing the Missouri Valley Conference's Arch Madness championship in a blowout 77-51 victory over the Bradley Braves.

"I’m in awe right now," said Drake senior forward Darnell Brodie after an awards ceremony Sunday. "This season has just been an up and down. Everybody doubted us. All that matters at the end is how you finish though."

The Des Moines, Iowa-based Bulldogs ended their 2022-23 regular season at 27-7, but it didn't come without challenges. Drake lost the regular-season title to the Bradley in Peoria last month, but Bulldogs guard Conor Enright, a redshirt freshman from Mundelein in the Chicago suburbs, said that gave his team an edge going into the conference tournament.

"It took a little bit of pressure off almost," Enright said. "We had a long win streak. So, you lose that game [and] you get a fresh start. We knew we just had to win three games out here in St. Louis, and we did it."

The championship did not come as a surprise to everyone: Drake was a near-unanimous pick, taking the top spot on 54 of 56 ballots, in a preseason survey of coaches, media and sports information directors. This marks the third consecutive year that Drake has reached the tournament championship game. The Bulldogs will be making the school's sixth March Madness appearance — the most recent was in 2021.

More than 6,700 spectators watched the final at Enterprise Center, which Enright said was a game-changer for him and his team. "I love all the Drake fans, and I appreciate them coming down," he said. "It feels like a home game when we’re scoring and they’re going — [the fans] are just so loud."

The Southeast Missouri State Redhawks also won a trip to the tournament by capturing the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament's automatic bid on Saturday against Tennessee Tech. The full 68-team tournament field, and where the teams will be playing, will be unveiled at 6 p.m. March 12 on CBS.

See photos from the Missouri Valley Conference championship game below:

Bradley Braves guard Connor Hickman (10) high fives a staff member while being introduced on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the 2-seeded Drake Bulldogs at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Bradley Braves guard Connor Hickman high-fives a staff member while being introduced on Sunday before the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship game against the No. 2-seeded Drake Bulldogs at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs guard Garrett Sturtz (3), runs onto the court while being announced on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the 1-seeded Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Drake Bulldogs guard Garrett Sturtz runs onto the court while being announced on Sunday before the Arch Madness championship game against the Bradley Braves at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs guard Roman Penn (1) drives the ball up the court on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Drake Bulldogs guard Roman Penn brings the ball up the court on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs guard Roman Penn (1) looks to get the ball past Bradley Braves forward Ja'Shon Henry (22) on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Drake guard Roman Penn looks to move past Bradley forward Ja'Shon Henry on Sunday during the Missouri Valley Conference championship game.
Drake Bulldogs head coach Darian Devries calls out to his team on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Drake head coach Darian Devries calls to his players on Sunday during the Arch Madness championship game against Bradley at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs guard Tucker DeVries (12) attempts to keep the ball from Bradley Braves forward Ja'Shon Henry (22) on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake guard Tucker DeVries attempts to keep the ball from Bradley forward Ja'Shon Henry on Sunday during the conference championship game at Enterprise Center.
Bradley Braves forward Rienk Mast (51) attempts to pass the ball to guard Duke Deen (21) while under pressure by Drake Bulldogs guard D.J. Wilkins (0) on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Bradley forward Rienk Mast, right, attempts to pass to guard Duke Deen while under pressure by Drake guard D.J. Wilkins on Sunday during the Missouri Valley Conference's Arch Madness tournament at Enterprise Center.
Bradley Braves head coach Brian Wardle speaks to players before they’re subbed in on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Drake Bulldogs at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Bradley head coach Brian Wardle speaks to players before they’re subbed in on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Members of the Bravettes Dance Team perform on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Drake Bulldogs at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the Bravettes Dance Team perform on Sunday during the Missouri Valley Conference tournament at Enterprise Center.
Members of the Bradley Braves Basketball Band perform on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Drake Bulldogs at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the Bradley Braves Basketball Band perform on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
A Drake Bulldogs cheerleader looks up to the video board on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Bulldogs at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
A Drake Bulldogs cheerleader looks up to the video board on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs guard D.J. Wilkins (0) attempts to keep the ball from Bradley Braves guard Duke Deen (21) on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Bulldogs guard D.J. Wilkins attempts to keep the ball from Braves guard Duke Deen on Sunday during the Arch Madness championship game at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs head coach Darian Devries calls out to his team on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake head coach Darian Devries calls out to his team on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Bradley Braves forward Ja'Shon Henry (22) loses his balance while Drake Bulldogs guard Tucker DeVries (12) gets a hand on the ball on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Bradley forward Ja'Shon Henry loses his balance while Drake guard Tucker DeVries gets a hand on the ball on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Bradley Braves guard Duke Deen (21), center, reacts to a foul on his team on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Drake Bulldogs at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Bradley Braves guard Duke Deen, center, reacts to a foul on his team on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Bradley Braves head coach Brian Wardle reacts to a foul on his team on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Drake Bulldogs at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Bradley Braves head coach Brian Wardle, whose team was the tournament's top seed, reacts to a foul on Sunday during the Missouri Valley Conference championship game.
Drake Bulldogs guard Roman Penn (1) drives the ball past Bradley Braves guard Zek Montgomery (3) on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Bulldogs guard Roman Penn drives past Braves guard Zek Montgomery on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs guard Garrett Sturtz (3) looks up before shooting a free throw on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Drake Bulldogs at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake guard Garrett Sturtz looks up before shooting a free throw on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs fans explode in emotion after a basket on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Drake Bulldogs fans explode in emotion after a basket on Sunday during the Missouri Valley Conference championship against the Bradley Braves at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs forward Darnell Brodie (51) looks down at Bradley Braves forward Rienk Mast as he attempts to block the ball on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Drake Bulldogs forward Darnell Brodie looks down at Bradley Braves forward Rienk Mast as he attempts to block the ball on Sunday.
Drake Bulldogs guard Roman Penn (1) goes for a layup on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake Bulldogs guard Roman Penn goes for a layup at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs guard Sardaar Calhoun (14) goes for a three-point shot on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake Bulldogs guard Sardaar Calhoun takes a three-point shot on Sunday.
Drake Bulldogs forward Darnell Brodie (51) looks to the crowd as the clock runs down on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake forward Darnell Brodie looks to the crowd as the clock runs down on Sunday during the Arch Madness championship game.
Drake Bulldogs guard D.J. Wilkins hypes up the crowd as the clock runs down on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake Bulldogs guard D.J. Wilkins hypes up the crowd as the clock runs down at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs fans cheer as the clock runs down, solidifying the team’s 77-51 dominating win against the Bradley Braves on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake Bulldogs fans cheer as the clock runs down, solidifying the team’s 77-51 win against the Bradley Braves on Sunday.
Members of the Drake Bulldogs Pep Band perform on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Drake Bulldogs at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the Drake Bulldogs Pep Band perform on Sunday at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
Drake Bulldogs head coach Darian Devries hugs his son and guard Tucker DeVries (12) as the clock runs down, solidifying the team’s 77-51 dominating win against the Bradley Braves on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake head coach Darian Devries hugs his son, guard Tucker DeVries, as the clock runs down in the Arch Madness final.
Drake Bulldogs forward Darnell Brodie (51) embraces forward Nate Ferguson (24) as the clock runs down and winning the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves, 77-51, on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Bulldogs forward Darnell Brodie embraces forward Nate Ferguson as time runs out Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs guard Roman Penn (1) celebrates winning the Missouri Valley Conference against the Bradley Braves, 77-51, on Sunday, March 5, 2023, during the “Arch Madness” championship match at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake guard Roman Penn celebrates his team's victory Sunday.
Drake Bulldogs guard Garrett Sturtz (3) smiles for a photo alongside mascot Griff II, left, and the Missouri Valley Conference champion trophy on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake guard Garrett Sturtz stops for a photo alongside mascot Griff, left, and the Missouri Valley Conference championship trophy on Sunday.
Drake Bulldogs guard Brashon Hall (2) cuts a piece of a net down on Sunday, March 5, 2023, after winning the the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Bulldogs guard Brashon Hall cuts a piece of net down after Drake won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship.
Drake Bulldogs guard Roman Penn (1) swings a piece of a net on Sunday, March 5, 2023, after winning the the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Bulldogs guard Roman Penn swings the net after the game on Sunday at Enterprise Center.
Drake Bulldogs XXXX speaks to the media on Sunday, March 5, 2023, after winning the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
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St. Louis Public Radio
Drake Bulldogs forward Nate Ferguson speaks to the media after the game on Sunday.
Members of the Drake Bulldogs team celebrate winning the the Missouri Valley Conference’s “Arch Madness” championship against the Bradley Braves and punching their ticket to the national March Madness tournament on Sunday, March 5, 2023, at the Enterprise Center.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Members of the Drake Bulldogs celebrate winning the Arch Madness tournament against the Bradley Braves on Sunday.

Brian Munoz is a photojournalist and multimedia reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.