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MEAC, SWAC Tourneys move to the fore

LUT WILLIAMS
BCSP Editor
The men of Stillman and women of Benedict emerged victorious from last week’s SIAC Basketball Tournament in Birmingham. Seven teams total from the SIAC and the CIAA – the four champions with automatic bids and three others with at-large bids – were named Sunday to regional fields to their respective 64-team NCAA Div. II championship fields. This week, the final two black college black college tournaments, the MEAC and SWAC Tournaments, take center stage in Norfolk, Va. and Houston respectively.

MEAC Tournament
The men of Hampton and women of Bethune-Cookman emerged from tight races to claim the top seeds in the MEAC Tournament at the Norfolk Scope Arena which began Monday. Despite losing its regular season finale to rival Norfolk State, Hampton (13-3) finished with a one-game lead over NSU and South Carolina State, who both finished 12-4 in conference play. Norfolk State is the second seed by virtue of its win over SC State in the regular season. Bethune-Cookman finished at 10-6 to take the fourth seed.

The four highest seeds advance to quarterfinal play on Wednesday and Thursday. Bethune-Cookman and North Carolina A&T both finished 12-4 on top of the women’s race. They split their two regular season matchups with B-CU having a bigger point differential and taking the top seed. Hampton is the third seed. The top three seeds advanced to Wednesday’s and Thursday’s quarterfinals. The men’s championship game is 1 p.m. on Saturday with the women’s championship game to start one hour after the completion of the men’s final.

SWAC Tournament
Texas Southern (16-2) is the men’s top seed while Alabama State (14-4) emerged from a three-way tie at the top to claim the top women’s seed at the SWAC Tournament at Houston’s Toyota Center. Alcorn State (13-5) won seven of its last nine games to grab the second spot on the men’s side followed by Jackson State (12-6) and Southern (11-7). The top four advance to Wednesday and Thursday’s quarterfinals.

The women of Southern and Texas Southern also finished at 14-4 in conference play to tie with Alabama State. TSU, who led for most of the regular season, dropped decisions to Alabama State and Southern in the last week to open the door to the tie. ASU swept two games from TSU to take the top seed. Southern, who split with TSU, grabbed the second seed. Both ASU and Southern get byes into Wednesday’s quarterfinals. TSU is the third seed and plays sixth-seed Jackson State and fourth-seed Grambling State faces fifth-seed Prairie View in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Semifinal games for both men and women are Friday with championship games Saturday.

NCAA DIV. II REGIONALS
Seven black college teams, five from the women’s side, will be competing for NCAA Div. II national championships in basketball. Four CIAA teams and three from the SIAC make up the seven which includes tournament champions from each conference that received automatic bids.

Virginia Union (25-2), the CIAA women’s tournament champ, is the top seed in the Atlantic Region and will host the regional at the Ashe Center in Richmond. The Lady Panthers will take on #8 seed Indiana Pa. (21-8) at 5 p.m.. The other CIAA women’s teams are #3 Shaw (24-7), the CIAA runner-up, and #7 Chowan (20-8). Shaw will face #5 West Liberty (27-4) at 12 noon while Chowan faces #2 California Pa. (24-5) at 5 p.m. Women’s SIAC tournament champion Benedict (27-2) is seeded second in the South Atlantic Region which will be played in Jackson, Tenn., home to top seed Union. The Tigers will face #7 Florida Tech (20-9) at 3:30 p.m. SIAC runner-up Kentucky State (24-4) is seeded fifth and will play #4 Florida Southern (24-5) at 8:30 p.m.

For the men, only SIAC champion Stillman (26-5) and CIAA champ Virginia State (23-5) received bids. VSU is seeded sixth and faces #3 Fairmont State (25-4) in the Atlantic Regional (12 noon) in Wheeling, W. Va. hosted by top seed Wheeling Jesuit. Stillman is a fifth seed in the South Regional and faces #4 West Georgia (22-8) in Huntsville, Ala. (7:30 p.m.) hosted by top seed Alabama-Huntsville.

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