It’s odd how Historically Black Colleges and Universities are overlooked during #March Madness. Both the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference champions are guaranteed NCAA bids. The winners are almost guaranteed either a play-in game or to face the top seed in a region.

In other words, it will be a short trip. Men’s teams won two games in the past 20 years: Norfolk State University knocked off Missouri 86-84 in 2012, and Hampton upset Iowa State 58-57 in 2001 -- in spite of the fact that most players in the NCAA tournament, NBA and WNBA are black.

NC Central burst Morgan State’s bubble 67-58 in the men’s semifinal on March 9.

The Eagles face Hampton in the title game on March 10. The NC A&T women knocked off Florida A&M 65-61 on March 9, and Hampton’s women upset Bethune-Cookman 61-50, to set up a Lady’s Pirates v. Lady Bulldogs championship. This will be the Pirates' last MEAC tournament, as they plan to join the Big South Conference in 2018.

Grambling’s women upset Texas Southern 66-59 to earn entry into the SWAC title game on March 10. The Lady Tigers face top-seeded Southern, an 84-76 winner over Prairie View, for the championship. Martaveous McKnight and Travon Harper combined for 51 points, leading Arkansas-Pine Bluff to a 71-65 upset over Southern and a spot in the men’s SWAC title game. Gary Blackston’s 32 points for the Panthers went for naught as Texas Southern topped Prairie View 88-74. The Tigers play the Jaguars on March 10.

Season’s not finished

A few men’s teams have alternative tournaments to play in in March. Any regular-season champion from a conference that doesn't qualify for March Madness automatically earns a berth in the 32-team NIT. Hampton is automatically eligible. Grambling is ineligible so Arkansas-Pine Bluff may receive the SWAC bid. Both the NIT and #College Basketball Invitational fields will be announced on March 11. Hampton participated in the CBI last year. Norfolk State played in the CollegeInsider Tournament.

Good times coming

The future looks bright for Bison men’s hoops after a freshman and sophomore were named First-team all MEAC. The pair accounted for nearly 60 percent of all Howard (7-9 MEAC, 10-23 overall) points this season.

Howard’s RJ Cole, who was also named Rookie of the Year, earned the honors after leading the league in scoring with 23.7 points per game. Teammate Charles Williams joined Cole on the first team, finishing second in MEAC in scoring with 20.3 ppg. Cole also led MEAC in steals (1.7 pg) and minutes (37.9 pg).

Williams averaged 35.5 mpg.

Ladies ball too

Six Washington, D.C.-area women won accolades from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for their performance on the hardwood this season. Coppin State guard Genesis Lucas (Gwynn Park) and Bethune-Cookman’s Ashanti Hunt (Kipp) were named First-team all MEAC.

Lucas leads the league in steals (2.8 per game) and minutes (37.4 pg) and is third in the league in scoring, averaging 16.1 points per game. Hunt averaged 10.2 ppg and 7.3 rebounds per game. Lucas’ Eagles teammate Chance Graham (Largo) is on the second team after leading the conference in rebounding, 10.7 pg, scoring 13.3 ppg, and playing 35.6 minutes per game.

Maryland Eastern Shore’s Bairesha Gill-Miles earned Rookie of the Year recognition after ranking eighth in the MEAC with 7.9 rebounds per contest, while also averaging 10.6 points per game. N.C. Central’s Kieche White (Friendship) and Delaware State’s Ryan Jones (Atholton) are also on the all-rookie team. #Historically Black Colleges and Universities