Men’s and women’s Div. I HBCU Basketball Tournament champs again have the unenviable tasks of taking on much bigger and more ballyhooed programs as the NCAA Tournament tips off this week. All but one of the teams’ coaches – fourth year women’s head coach Johnetta Hayes-Perry of SWAC champion Texas Southern – has been down this road before. Her counterpart at Texas Southern, men’s coach Mike Davis, is taking his SWAC champion Tigers to the Big Dance for the third time in five years.
This will be Davis’s eighth appearance in the tournament overall. He made four others as head coach at Indiana and one trip while leading Alabama Birmingham. Davis’s troops (23-11) are a 16th seed in the South Regional and will face top seed North Carolina (27-7) Friday (4 p.m.) in Greenville, S.C.
For MEAC women’s champion Hampton, it’s six for Six. Head coach David Six, after winning five straight MEAC titles and making five straight NCAA appearances from 2010-2014, will be taking his sixth team to the tournament. His Lady Pirates (20-12) are seeded 15th in the Bridgeport Regional and take on 2nd-seed Duke (27-5) on its home court in Durham, N. C. Saturday (9 p.m.).
Eight-year head coach LeVelle Moton will be taking his MEAC men’s champion North Carolina Central Eagles to the Dance for the second time in four years. His team has the best
overall record of the four at 25-8 but perhaps got the worst deal. NCCU played in the First Four game Wednesday (6:40 p.m.) in Dayton, Ohio vs. UC Davis (22-12). The winner gets a 16th-seed in the Midwest Regional and gets to take on top seed Kansas (28-4) on Friday (6:50 p.m.) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The TSU’s women’s date Saturday (6:30 p.m.) in the Oklahoma City Regional on the home court of top seed Baylor (30-3) in Waco, Texas will be the initial baptism as a head coach for Hayes-Perry and the TSU program. The Lady Tigers (23-9) are seeded 16th.
Ironically, neither Kansas in the men’s Big 12, North Carolina in the men’s ACC, Baylor in the women’s Big 12 or Duke in the women’s ACC won their conference tournament title.
UC-Davis is the only opponent of the four HBCU conference champs that won its conference tournament. The Aggies won the men’s Big West Tournament championship over UC Irvine to earn that conference’s automatic bid.