The most exciting time in college basketball is upon us as the NCAA Tournament tips off tonight with the First Four.
Featured in the First Four will be the Texas Southern Tigers who will look to play into the Round of 64 when they face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Last year, Texas Southern along with Norfolk State made history winning in their respective first four games marking the first time two HBCUs won a game in the NCAA tournament.
While the Tigers will look to repeat history tonight, the Spartans have already qualified for the 64-team field as they will face the number one seed and reigning NCAA champs Baylor Bears.
With this in mind, let’s take a look back at previous times HBCUs won games in the NCAA tournament.
1980 — Alcorn State
In the first year of the SWAC participating in the NCAA tournament, back when there were only 48 participants, the Alcorn State Braves wasted no time becoming the first men’s HBCU team to get a win.
Led by Hall of Fame head coach Davey Whitney, the Braves held a 28-1 overall record and were a perfect 12-0 in the conference.
Their team featured two-time SWAC Player of the Year and future NBA veteran Larry Smith who averaged 20.1 points and 15.1 rebounds in 26 games.
Cruising past Southern and Grambling State in the conference tournament, Alcorn was awarded the eighth seed in the Midwest region facing South Alabama Jaguars in the first round.
The Braves entered the tournament on a 21-game win streak and extended it to 22 games when they went on to defeat South Alabama 70-62.
Smith was the star of the game for Alcorn State finishing with 18 points and 17 rebounds matched by junior center Eddie Baker who also had 18 points and junior guard E.J. Bell with 16 points.
1983 — Alcorn State
Three years later, Alcorn State is now in its third NCAA tournament in four years losing in the first round in 1982.
This time around, the Braves went 18-9 in the regular season and 10-4 against the SWAC defeating Texas Southern to claim the SWAC crown.
In the tournament, the Braves played in the play-in looking to secure the 12th and final seed in the Midwest region going on to beat Xavier 81-75.
Four players scored in double figures for Alcorn led by sophomore guard Michael Phelps who had 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field adding six steals.
1984 — Alcorn State
One year later, the Braves beat Texas Southern for the second straight year to claim their third consecutive SWAC title.
They played in the play-in again this time against Houston Baptist to be the outright 12-seed in the Midwest region.
Alcorn cruised past Houston Baptist winning 79-60 again led by Michael Phelps who scored 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting adding five rebounds and three assists.
1993 — Southern
The first non-Alcorn State HBCU team to win a game in the NCAA tournament was the Southern Jaguars in 1993.
Southern finished with the second-best record this season defeating the regular-season champion Jackson State in the conference tournament 101-80 to claim the NCAA tournament berth.
They entered as the 13-seed in the West region facing the four-seed Georgia Tech in the first round. After trailing at halftime, the Jags outscored Georgia Tech 54-34 in the second half going on to win 93-78.
Also read: Poll: Which HBCU team had the greatest NCAA tourney upset, Southern, Coppin St., Hampton or Norfolk St.?
Southern was led by 1994 SWAC Player of the Year Jervaughn Scales who filled the stat sheet with 27 points, 18 rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
Senior forward Leonard White also had a big game with 18 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and two blocks.
1997 — Coppin State
In 1997, we got the first MEAC team to win a game in the NCAA tournament the culprit being the Coppin State Eagles.
After finishing the regular season with the best record in the MEAC, Coppin beat North Carolina A&T 81-74 to claim the MEAC crown.
The Eagles were awarded the 15-seed in the tourney facing the second-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks in the first round.
Coppin shocked the world upsetting South Carolina 78-65 becoming just the third 15-seed to win an NCAA tournament game since it expanded to 16 teams per region in 1985.
Danny Singletary led the Eagles off the bench in the game with 22 points and five steals followed by Antoine Brockington with 20 points and three steals.
The Eagles almost became the first HBCU to advance to the Sweet 16 but fell short against the Texas Longhorns 82-81.
2001 — Hampton
Four years after Coppin State’s massive upset win, the Hampton Pirates pulled off a big victory of their own in the 2001 NCAA tournament.
Hampton had the best record in the MEAC this season cruising through the conference tournament beating Morgan State, Norfolk State and South Carolina State by an average margin of 17 points.
The Pirates were given the 15-seed in the West region facing off against two-seed Iowa State a team led by future NBA point guard Jamaal Tinsley.
In a close outing, Hampton escaped with a 58-57 victory featuring MEAC Player of the Year Tarvis Williams recording 16 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.
2004 — Florida A&M
Florida A&M’s road to the NCAA tournament in 2004 was much tougher than the teams that came before them.
The Rattlers finished the regular season with an overall record of 11-16 and a 10-8 record in MEAC play the fifth-best record in the conference.
FAMU knocked off the regular season co-champions South Carolina State and Coppin State on their way to securing a tournament berth.
They opened up March Madness as the sole play-in game defeating Lehigh 72-57 to claim sole possession of the 16-seed in the St. Louis region.
Senior guard Terrence Woods spearheaded the Rattlers’ win putting up 24 points and five steals.
2010 — Arkansas-Pine Bluff
In the final year before the NCAA tournament instituted the First Four, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions became the last team to win what was called the play-in in 2010.
UAPB finished the regular season with a 14-15 record including 14-4 against the SWAC defeating Texas Southern to win the conference title.
In the play-in, the Golden Lions defeated Winthrop 61-44 to making their way to the 64 team field in the South region before going on to lose to the eventual champion Duke in the first round.
2012 — Norfolk State Spartans
The 2012 Norfolk State Spartans are the last HBCU team to win a game in the Round of 64 in the NCAA tournament.
The Spartans were the worst to first story going from a 10-19 record in the 2011 season to a 26-10 record in the 2012 season.
They were led by the MEAC Player of the Year Kyle O’Quinn who was the rebounder and shot-blocker in the conference.
Norfolk defeated Bethune-Cookman to win the MEAC and were given the 15-seed in the West region of the tourney facing the two-seeded Missouri.
In a close contest, the Spartans survived winning 86-84 pulling off the major upset with O’Quinn shining once again putting up 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting adding 14 rebounds and two blocks.
Meanwhile, Pendarvis Williams and Chris McEachin each scored 20 points in the game.
2013 — North Carolina A&T
The North Carolina A&T Aggies’ unlikely run to the MEAC title saw them finish the regular season in the middle of the pack tied for the sixth-best record in the conference.
The Aggies made their way through Florida A&M, North Carolina Central, Delaware State and Morgan State on their way to winning the conference for the first time in 18 years.
They were also the first team in five years to go from the opening round of the MEAC tournament to winning the title.
NCAT continued their improbable run to the NCAA tournament winning 73-72 in the first four against Liberty becoming the undisputed 16-seed in the Midwest region.
2015 — Hampton
Like North Carolina A&T, the 2015 Hampton Pirates also won the MEAC after a less than spectacular regular season finishing sixth in the conference.
Following wins over Morgan State, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Norfolk State and Delaware State the Pirates secured their spot in the NCAA tournament in the first four against Manhattan.
Hampton continued their good fortunes defeating Manhattan 74-64 before going on to lose to the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats that featured a loaded squad with future NBA All-Stars Devin Booker and Karl Anthony-Towns among other future NBA talent.
2018 — Texas Southern
Prior to last year, Texas Southern was the most recent team to win a game in the NCAA tournament.
Coming off of winning their third SWAC title in the last four seasons, the Tigers added a fourth in 2018 defeating Arkansas Pine-Bluff punching their ticket to the big dance.
Texas Southern faced North Carolina Central in the first four which is the only time to date two HBCUs have played against each other in the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers came out on top winning 64-46 featuring a 25-point performance by Demontrae Jefferson.
Tonight, Texas Southern could join Alcorn State becoming just the second HBCU team to ever win three total games in NCAA tournament history.