History is unfolding right before our eyes as Texas Southern advanced to the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) on Monday night. Monday’s win marked the first time since 2010 an HBCU has won multiple games in postseason play.
While some may discount the quality of the tournament due to the fact that it’s third in the postseason pecking order, the CIT is a solid mid-major tournament which provides additional court time for teams in addition to winnable games. Texas Southern has taken advantage of the additional action as the Tigers are riding a two-game win streak with wins over New Orleans (Southland) and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (WAC). Up next for TSU is a contest at Louisiana at Monroe on Thursday at 7 p.m. Once again, this is a winnable contest as ULM barely beat Grambling State earlier this season.
Now that the basics are out the way, let’s focus on what’s unfolding at 3100 Cleburne.
The last time an HBCU had a postseason run this long occurred in Greensboro, N.C. in 2010 when the North Carolina A&T State women knocked off Wake Forest and UNC Charlotte in NIT action under Pat Bibbs. While there have been several impressive wins in NCAA Tournament action over the years, no HBCU has won multiple postseason contests since joining the NCAA Division I ranks. You can chalk that stat up to resident sports professor Dr. Kenyatta Cavil.
In Texas Southern’s case, this is an impressive feat. The Tigers arguably are the SWAC’s most successful men’s basketball program with eight NCAA Tournament appearances and 16 SWAC regular season championships since 1954-55. TSU has an NCAA Tournament win (2018) under its belt and won four games en route to being crowned the 1977 NAIA Champions.
What makes this team special is that the Tigers only have eight players available for the CIT and have come close to suiting up legendary radio announcer Lary “Chattabox” Hale and athletic director Kevin Granger at times due to depth issues. This unit overcame a 10-point second half deficit at UTRGV Monday night and will have to continue to walk a fine line with ULM being well-rested.
While TSU’s run is history-making, a bigger opportunity may be on the horizon as fellow HBCU and Big South member Hampton University has an opportunity to earn its second win. The Pirates will face Charleston Southern Tuesday night. If both TSU and Hampton win, history could happen with a match-up on the hardwood in the semifinals.
In the words of Chattabox, keep on sipping the victory champagne and “GOOOOOOO TIGERS!”
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