Last season, five HBCUs (two from SWAC, three from MEAC) advanced to the 2022 NCAA Division Ⅰ men’s basketball tournament. Also, three HBCUs (one from SWAC, two from MEAC) teams made it to the 2022 NCAA Division Ⅰ women’s basketball tournament.
On the men’s side, Alcorn State, Maryland Eastern Shore, and Morgan State lost in the First Four. Texas Southern won over Texas A&M-Corpus Christie in the First Four and later fell to the eventual champion Kansas Jayhawks in the round of 64. Norfolk State also lost to the defending champion at the time, the Baylor Bears, in the round of 64.
On the women’s side, Howard won a close one over Incarnate Word in the First Four before losing to the eventual champion South Carolina in the Round of 64. Also, in the First Four, Norfolk State narrowly lost to Drexel.
Jackson State was the most impressive of all, pushing the veteran-laden LSU Tigers, coached by women’s hoops legend Kim Mulkey, all the way up until the very end before narrowly losing. Jackson State’s Ameshya Williams-Holliday became the first HBCU player drafted by the WNBA in 20 years.
In this article, I will try and predict which HBCU teams could make a run in March.
Men’s tournament projections
The Grambling State Tigers will make it to their first NCAA Tournament in history thanks to being second in both offense and defense, scoring 82.5 points per game and allowing 65.5 points per game, allowing them a 17-point average margin of victory.
Carte’are Gordon is averaging 16 points per game and is second in SWAC in rebounding with 9.5 rebounds per game and is leading SWAC in blocked shots with two blocks per game. Shawndarius Cowart is averaging 16 points per game, leading SWAC in field-goal percentage at 58.8%, and is second in assists with 4.5 per game and second in steals with three per game.
Prairie View A&M
Just like the Tigers, the Prairie View A&M Panthers are both a tough offensive and defensive team, leading SWAC in scoring with 86.3 points per game and allowing the third-fewest points per game with 68.7 points per game.
It helps that they have SWAC’s second-leading scorer in Will Douglas, with 19 points per game, and is third in field-goal percentage (51.1). The Panthers also boast one of the top defensive players in Yahuza Rasas, who is sixth in rebounds with 6.3 per game and 11th in steals with 1.7 per game. Jeremiah Grambell is eighth in assists with three per game.
The Norfolk State Spartans are fourth in offense with 77.2 points per game and third in defense by allowing 70 points per game. They lead in field-goal percentage at 48.2% and allow their opponents to shoot just 40.2%.
Joe Bryant and Kris Bankston are top-10 in scoring in MEAC with 15.8 and 13.6 points per game, as well as being top-10 in field-goal percentage. The Spartans also have two of the top-five rebounders in MEAC, with Bankston averaging eight rebounds per game and Dana Tate averaging 6.3 rebounds per game. Bankston is also second in blocked shots, with 1.8 blocks per game. Christian Ings is sixth in assists with four per game and eight in steals with 1.8 per game.
Another great two-way team is the Morgan State Bears, who are second in offense and defense, respectively, in the MEAC. They allow teams to shoot just 42.4% while shooting 38.8% from three-point range.
The Bears boast one of MEAC’s top defensive players in Malik Miller, the conference’s leading rebounder with 9.3 rebounds per game and also leads in steals with two per game. Another top defender is Khalil Turner, who is fourth in blocked shots with 1.3 blocks per game and fifth in steals with 2.3 per game. Miller is also third in assists with 4.8 per game. Collin Nnamene leads MEAC in blocked shots with two blocks per game.
Women’s tournament projections
The thing that sets apart the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions from the pack in SWAC is their defense, as they are allowing by far the fewest points in SWAC with 58.3 per game, the lowest field-goal percentage at 33.2% and the lowest 3-point percentage at 25.6%.
Maori Davenport leads the SWAC in rebounding, going away with 14 rebounds per game, and in shot blocking going away with 3.3 blocks per game. She is also the sixth-leading scorer with 13 points per game. Coriah Beck is another key player for the Golden Lions, as she is 10th in scoring with 11 points per game and leads SWAC in assists with 3.7 per game.
Prairie View A&M
The Prairie View A&M Panthers are both great offensively and defensively, leading SWAC in scoring by a large margin at 79.3 points per game and allowing just 66.5 points per game.
Diana Rosenthal is SWAC’s leading scorer at 21.8 points per game, shooting 52.5% for the season. Destiny Jenkins is very important for this team, as she is scoring 10.5 points per game and leads SWAC in steals with four per game.
Norfolk State is by far the MEAC’s best offensive team, averaging 83.3 points per game and allowing just 49.5 points per game. NSU is shooting 49.3% and allowing opponents to shoot just 28.3%.
The Spartans boast three of the top-10 scorers in MEAC with Deja Francis (15.8 points per game), Kierra Wheeler (11.5 points per game), and Camille Downs (10.8 points per game). Wheeler leads in rebounds with 11.5 per game, Francis leads in assists with 4.8 per game and Downs is second in steals with 3.3 per game.
The Morgan State Bears are second in scoring with 73.3 points per game and are first in scoring defense, allowing 46.3 points per game. They are also second in field-goal percentage at 40.7% and second in opposing field-goal percentage at 33.3%.
Two of the top-three MEAC scorers are on the Bears, as Ja’Niah Henson is averaging 16 points per game, and Charlene Shepherd is averaging 14.8 points per game. Three of the top-seven rebounders are also on the Bears, with Shepherd averaging 8.3 rebounds per game, Addison averaging 7.5 rebounds per game, and Sunshine McCrae averaging six rebounds per game.