March Madness is just getting underway for most people, but for fans of HBCU hoops, Wednesday night will actually be the pinnacle of Black college basketball this season. In fact, it could be argued that the matchup between the Texas Southern University Tigers and the North Carolina Central Eagles in a First Four matchup in Dayton, Ohio, is the unofficial Black college basketball championship.
The momentous, unprecedented, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime occasion of HBCUs squaring off in the NCAA Tournament will afford one of the teams to notch its first NCAA tournament win ever. But, maybe more importantly, the winning team will have bragging rights over the entire 100+ realm of Black college sports — “one shining moment,” if you will, to officially determine which team is the best in Black college basketball this season.
The winner is almost assured to lose against its next opponent, top seeded
There are typically only two HBCUs that participate in the NCAA tournament each year as a result of automatic berths from two separate athletic conferences comprised 100% of Black colleges. In that respect, this year is no different, with Texas Southern representing the all-Black Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and Central hailing from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Those are the only two all-Black Division I athletic conferences in existence.
North Carolina Central head coach LeVelle Moton told the News & Observer that even though he is friendly with Texas Southern coach Mike Davis, the last thing he wanted was the tournament’s only two HBCUs playing each other.
“I didn’t want that,” he said. “Soon as I saw it on the screen I knew what it was. The big picture is that we are happy to be here because there are 200 and something programs that didn’t make it, who are probably crying right now. I’ve been on that side of the coin, so I’d rather feel it on this side.”
Texas Southern is favored to win the game by five points, according to CBS News, but really, there is no loser here regardless of the final score.