Bulldogs familiar with underdog role

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COLUMBIA, SC (CBS19 SPORTS) -- For Gardner-Webb, this men's basketball season has been a season of firsts. The Bulldogs are Big South tournament champions for the first time and, by virtue, in the NCAA Tournament for the first time.

Gardner-Webb (23-11) faces number-one seed Virginia at 3:00 Friday afternoon. The Bulldogs will try to repeat history, being the second 16-seed to beat Virginia in two years.

Winning in the Big South tournament isn't the only success Gardner-Webb has had on a bigger stage. For the first time in program history, the team beat an ACC team on the road, winning at Georgia Tech on December 17. Twelve days later, the Bulldogs went on the road again and won at Wake Forest.

Then in the Big South tournament, the Bulldogs were the four-seed, going on the road to beat top-seed Campbell, who has the top scorer in the country in Chris Clemons. Then the team went to Radford, a team that was in the NCAA Tournament last year.

"We're excited. You know, we already have two ACC wins," said sophomore guard Jaheam Cornwall, "so I think, you know, why not the third, you know. Go out there and prove everybody wrong."

The Bulldogs also aren't confusing themselves, knowing Virginia is on a different level than Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. The Cavaliers won a share of the ACC regular season championship for the second year in a row.

"They are a high level program," said senior forward DJ Laster. "I believe we have high level players on our team. So I think, if we just go out there and compete and just play with them, we have a good chance."

"Our guys got to just play loose, said head coach Tim Craft. "You know, they've just got to go out and play loose and free. I'm going to try and really get them to out and just, lets have some fun."