Bradley Braves

General Information

NCAA Division: Division I
Conference: Missouri Valley (1948-present)
Past Conferences: Independent
City: Peoria, Ill.
Arena: Carver Arena
NCAA Tournaments: 9 (1950, 1954, 1955, 1980, 1986, 1988, 1996, 2006, 2019)


National Championships: None
Conference Tournament Titles: 4 (1980, 1988, 2019, 2020)
Conference Regular Season Titles: 7 (1950, 1962, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1996)

Team History

The Bradley Braves are a Division I program located in Peoria, Ill. Bradley competes in the Missouri Valley Conference and is coached by Brian Wardle.

While Bradley has been to the NCAA Tournament just twice over the last two decades, the school was once a perennial national title contender. Circle back to the 1950s and you’ll find that the Braves made three Elite Eights, two Final Fours and were the national runner-up in both 1950 and 1954.

In 1950, Bradley went 32-5, won the MVC regular season title and beat Baylor in the Final Four before falling to CCNY 71-68 in the national championship game. Four years later, during a brief period as an independent, the Braves advanced to the NCAA title game again and lost to LaSalle, 92-76.

The Braves made it back to the Elite Eight the following season, and, in 1956, they returned to the MVC. Sustaining that success, however, proved difficult. The program didn’t see the NCAA Tournament again until 1980. They also made it in 1986, 1988, and 1996.

In 2006, there came another seminal moment for the program. The Braves received an at-large bid to the Big Dance as a No. 13 seed and overcame the odds to beat No. 4 Kansas and No. 5 Pittsburgh. Back in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1955, Bradley lost to top-seeded Memphis 80-64. Following that season, star center Patrick O’Bryant left for the NBA Draft, where he was selected ninth overall by the Golden State Warriors.

The Braves’ most recent postseason appearance was in 2019. They also qualified for the 2020 tournament, which was subsequently canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Bradley has played in the National Invitational Tournament 21 times and is a four-time champion (1957, 1960, 1964, and 1982).

Wardle, a former Horizon League Coach of the Year at Green Bay, took over at Bradley in 2015 after Geno Ford was fired. Wardle won at least 20 games three times over his first six seasons at Bradley and was 110-115 overall. Expectations were raised heading into 2022-23 as Bradley was ranked second in the MVC preseason poll.

All-Time Records

  • Points Scored

    Hershey Hawkins: 3,008
    JJ Anderson: 2,341
    Roger Phegley: 2,064

  • Rebounds

    Dick Estergard: 1,414
    Chet Walker: 1,036
    JJ Anderson: 947

  • Assists

    Anthony Manuel: 855
    Jim Les: 696
    Daniel Ruffin: 644


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