Record: 21-10 (13-3)
Conference Tournament Seed: 1
NCAA Tournament Seed: 16 (Midwest)
How they got to the Big Dance
Hampton University is heading back to the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. Last season the Pirates defeated Manhattan in a play-in game for a No. 16 seed before going on to lose to No. 1 seed Kentucky by 23 points in the next round. This season, the Pirates are headed down a similar path. Unlike last year as a No. 6 seed, Hampton earned the top seed in this year’s Mid-Eastern conference tournament after posting a 13-3 record in conference play. In the quarterfinal the Pirates squeaked out an 83-81 win over Morgan State, followed by a 89-55 blowout win over Savannah State in the semifinal. The Pirates then successfully defended their MEAC championship with an 81-69 win over South Carolina State in the title game.
Why they will be a Cinderella team
The NCAA tournament is all about which teams can catch fire at the right time, and Hampton is on quite a hot streak. They’ve now won 8 of their last 9 games, and 16 of their last 19. The Pirates are among one of the best rebounding teams in the country, grabbing the 7th most rebounds per game. A part of their success can be contributed to their ability to grab rebounds on the offensive end of the court. They rank 17th in the country with 11.8 offensive rebounds per game. As a result, the Pirates create many opportunities for second chance points. If Hampton can use their momentum and continue to hit the boards as well as they have all season long, they may just give some teams a little bit of trouble if they can hang around late in a game.
Why they won’t be a Cinderella team
You never know what to expect from these mid-major conference winners. The only ranked team the Pirates played all season was SMU, who was ranked No. 18 at the time. They lost that game at home by 33 points. They don’t hang onto the ball very well, turning the ball over 14 times per game. If that were to happen against a No. 1 seed, the chances of them winning the game are very slim. Free throws are another major concern for the Pirates. Although they take the 20th most free throws in the country, they only make 64.7 percent from the charity strike. That horrendous percentage ranks them 329th in the nation. The Pirates stand no chance of competing with a top team if they can’t make their free throws or hang onto the ball. Hampton’s last two trips to the Round of 64 have resulted in blowout losses to No. 1 seeds, and don’t be surprised if there is a similar result in this year’s dance.
Player to Watch- G Quinton Chievous
He may not lead his team in scoring, but senior guard Quinton Chievous plays a huge role for the Pirates. He is averaging a double-double this season, putting up 17.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. On a team that prides itself on rebounding, Chievous will have to continue this level of play to help keep their season alive. His scoring totals are a result of his 57 percent shooting, a much more consistent rate than the team’s leading scorer, Reginald Johnson Jr. However, his one major downfall is his free throw shooting. He makes less than 50 percent of his shots from the free-throw line. If Hampton is going to make some magic, Quinton Chievous is going to have to be a reliable second scoring option for the Pirates while continuing to be a monster on the glass.
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