Iowa History Daily: On March 15, 1969, Drake University advanced to the Final Four in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament after beating Colorado State 84-77. The first tournament appearance for the Bulldogs, the season also represents their deepest run to date.
Coach Maury John’s team smothered opponents with tough defense, Drake finished the regular season atop the Missouri Valley Conference with a 13-3 (26-5 record). Led by Dolph Pulliam, Willie McCarter, and Willie Wise, Drake opened the tournament with a dominant 81-63 win over the Texas A&M Aggies.
After a seven point second-round win over Colorado State, the Bulldogs faced the two-time defending national champions of UCLA in the Final Four. The Bulldogs gave the Wizard of Westwood, legendary coach John Wooden, and his giant center, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), all they could handle before ultimately falling 85-82.
Drake would bounce back to beat North Carolina, 104-84 in the third place game to finish the season 26-5. A 2004 documentary helped bring the season back to life, and many Drake alumni and Des Moines residents still remember the run to the Final Four fondly today. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar