Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: A look at Grand Canyon's success and their ceiling as a program

It's time to join the largest party in college basketball.
Grand Canyon student section
Grand Canyon student section / Sam Wasson/GettyImages

Grand Canyon University the university that most thought was just an online school, has become one of the biggest success stories in recent NCAA Tournament History. Back on March 22nd 2023 Grand Canyon University pulled off what some who were in the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena to witness it would call the biggest win in Lopes history. For the first time ever the Lopes got a win in the Big Dance by defeating the Saint Mary's Gales by a score of 66-58.

Now this wasn't the first time the Lopes have made it to the Big Dance. Oh no my friends this was the third time since 2021 the Lopes have made the tournament. In a press conference Lopes team was asked, "What does this moment mean and what does it say about the program's success with this being the third trip since 2021 and being a part of such a huge ride to success with the Lopes?" Senior Guard Tyon Grant-Foster said it best, "I feel like it means a lot, just because of all the work that Coach Drew and the entire coaching staff have put in recruiting players and just the system that they put in to let us go out there and play. So I feel like that just helps us a lot with the winning success."

Another reason for the success is the massive student section that not only shows up for home games but has traveled to every away game also. These student's call themselves the HAVOCS and that's what they do. They come in and create the havoc to make any away environment feel like the team never left home. This was very apparent in Spokane, Washington when Grand Canyon University sent over 500 students to travel with the team for the first and second rounds of the Big Dance in 2024.

After the team captured their first win in tournament history they were asked, "You guys have one of the best student section in the nation, what did it mean to have them in Spokane?" Senior Gabe Mcglothan said to the media, "I told you reinforcements were inbound and they showed up. The Havocs, they're always having our backs. It's been a blessing having been a part of this."

What's next for the Lopes? They have to continue they path to success. They are back-to-back Western Athletic Conference season champions. Head Coach Bryce Drew said it best on what he believed has really helped this program succeed and that is faith. "It's a special platform we have here at GCU. I had a heart condition growing up. I gave my life to the Lord at a young age, and we have so many guys that come into our program and have never heard about the Christian faith, never heard about our Lord and what he can do for them. Part of what we can do with our program is we get to develop young men. We get to help make them better basketball players and help introduce faith to their lives."

Next. 10 best mid-major HC hires of the offseason. 10 best mid-major HC hires of the offseason. dark

I truly believe that Coach Drew is correct that the platform they have built at GCU has played a massive role with the Lopes success. Now with six players graduating this season, I believe this will be the greatest time for this group of young men to really put this platform to use with the next class of recruits and keep the faith going strong in order to maintain this amazing program's success. If they can do this I see a ton of potential for this team and a much deeper run in the NCAA Tournament.