CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It might as well have been Christmas Eve for many of the students at Gardner-Webb University Thursday. The campus and surrounding town of Boiling Springs have been buzzing all week. because the school’s men’s basketball team will play their first NCAA Tournament game ever Friday afternoon.
“I think it’s a really cool thing for such a small school to get this big opportunity,” said Gardner-Webb student Aubrie Hemmer.
While the team faces a daunting task, competing against a No. 1 seed in the University of Virginia, fans are still confident the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs can pull off the upset.
“We’re gonna win. We’re gonna win. There’s no doubt we’re gonna win,” said Noel Manning, Associate Vice President for Communications at Gardner-Webb.
While it would be a big upset for the Runnin’ Bulldogs to knock off UVA, it’s not unheard of. Just last year a No.1 ranked Virginia Wahoos team lost in their first game of the tournament to a No. 16 seed.
“They lost last year so hopefully we can go out and make some magic happen,” said Gardner-Webb student-athlete Brandon Bright.
The magic has already been on campus. Banners and signs have been posted to celebrate the team. Students were working Thursday night to make signs for Friday’s game.
“It’s been a huge thing for not just like us as a school but our whole entire town,” said Gardner-Webb student Claire Mossman.
Manning said the school will be busing students and boosters to the game in Columbia, South Carolina Friday.