Hampton will take on undefeated and overall No. 1 seed Kentucky Thursday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament as a 32-point underdog.
Last Time Out: The Pirates (17-17) won their fifth straight game – and won their second-ever NCAA Div. I Tournament game – with a 74-64 win over MAAC champion Manhattan in the First Four on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. Reginald Johnson and Quinton Chievous each had 15 points for the Pirates, while Chievous also grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds. Brian Darden added 13 points, while Deron Powers chipped in eight points on top of dishing out a team-high seven assists.
The Series: This will be the first meeting between Hampton and Kentucky.
The Opponent: Kentucky (34-0) is the No. 1 team in the country and the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, by virtue of its perfect 34-0 record, as well as SEC regular-season and tournament championships. Aaron Harrison is t he team’s top scorer, averaging 11.3 points per game, while Devin Booker is averaging 10.5 points per contest – though Kentucky has six players who are averaging at least eight points a contest. Karl-Anthony Towns, the AP’s SEC Freshman of the Year, and William Cauley-Stein are the team’s top rebounders, averaging 6.7 and 6.4 boards a night, respectively.
Pirates Against the SEC: Hampton is 0-1 against teams currently in the Southeastern Conference, that lone game a 100-85 loss to Vanderbilt on Nov. 23, 2001. The Pirates have never faced Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Texas A&M.
Pirates on Neutral Courts: The Pirates are 6-1 on neutral courts so far this season.
Pirates Taking on the Big Boys: The Pirates’ game at Illinois on Dec. 17 was the third of three contests this season for the Pirates against teams from the so-called “power conferences.” After facing the Hawkeyes on Nov. 14, the Pirates took on ACC foe Syracuse. If the Pirates defeat Manhattan on Tuesday, they will face their fourth power-conference foe of the season in No. 1 overall seed Kentucky, the SEC regular-season and tournament champion.
About the Midwest Region: Undefeated Kentucky is the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and the top seed in the Midwest Region. The winner of Tuesday’s Manhattan-Hampton game will face the Wildcats on Thursday in the second round in Louisville, Ky. Kansas, the Big XII regular-season champion, is the region’s No. 2 seed, while ACC Tournament champion Notre Dame is the No. 3 seed and Maryland is the No. 4 seed.
Joyner Closing in on 100: Following the Pirates’ NCAA first-round win over Manhattan on Tuesday, head coach Edward Joyner Jr. has 99 career wins as a head coach, leaving him one shy of 100.
Time: 8:40 p.m. Central