Hampton makes an improbable run to the Big Dance
The Hampton Pirates are the first Cinderella story of March, as the sixth seeded Pirates holding a record of 16-17 (8-8), beat Delaware State to win the MEAC conference tournament, earning an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. As Hampton is most likely heading towards the 16 vs. 16 seed play-in game, it gives the Pirates a chance to keep their season alive by winning an actual NCAA tournament game, a rare feat for most 16 seeds.
When I heard the news a team with a losing record was headed to the tournament–again, I could only smile. This is what March Madness is all about, a team that has absolutely no hope to receive an invitation to play in any tournament (NIT, CBT, CBI) let alone the Big Dance, wins four games in a row all as underdogs, to become MEAC conference tournament champions, forcing their way into the postseason.
Don’t count out the Pirates in the tournament. I was 12 years old the last time Hampton pulled off their last Herculean upset in 2001, beating the second seed Iowa State Cyclones 58-57. I remember it all too well, mainly because I had the Jamal Tinsley-led Cyclones going to the elite eight and Hampton busted my bracket that first glorious Thursday of March Madness. This is just the start of buzzer-beaters, questionable calls, and heartbreak. This is March Madness.