Listen Live
Listen Live Graphics (Indy)
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - First Four

Source: Ben Solomon / Getty

After taking a year off because of the pandemic, the 2021 NCAA Tournament made a triumphant return and got off to a very Black start Thursday night after both teams from HBCUs competing in the play-in games went undefeated to advance to the coveted field of 64 teams.

The Texas Southern Tigers beat the Mountaineers from Mt. St. Mary’s University and the Norfolk State Spartans edged Appalachian State University to sweep their two “First Four” games played at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana.

It was the first time in NCAA Tournament history that a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and a team from the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) won games in the same tournament. Both MEAC and the SWAC are comprised entirely of HBCUs.

Texas Southern’s 60-52 victory gave the Tigers the distinction of being the only team with multiple wins in the “First Four,” a term referring to the number of teams playing on the NCAA Tournament’s opening night for the chance to join the field of other teams. The Tigers have now won twice in the “First Four,” accounting for both of the school’s NCAA victories.

John Walker III, a forward for Texas Southern who finished the game with 19 points and 9 rebounds, said at the post-game press conference that the win made him feel “like I’m on top of the world.”


Norfolk State, which played in the later game, eked by Appalachian State by a score of 54-53 after squandering an 18-point lead.

In classic NCAA Tournament fashion, none of the so-called experts expressed much confidence in the HBCU teams ahead of their games Thursday night.

Typically, HBCUs serve as also-ran formalities for more talented teams from predominately white universities that are favored to win. Thursday was no exception to that rule, as oddsmakers described the Texas Southern-Mt. St. Mary’s game as a toss-up and had Norfolk State as a three-point underdog to Appalachian State.

They were wrong.

However, it doesn’t get any easier from here.

Texas Southern will faceoff Saturday against the University of Michigan, a team that has hovered in the top 5 all season long. Norfolk State squeaked past Appalachian State for the right to play Gonzaga University, an undefeated team that has been No. 1 for the entire season.

This is a developing story that will be updated.


Howard University Men’s Basketball Team Cancels Remainder Of Season Due To COVID-19

Ex-Hoops Coach Claims His Idea For HBCU All-Star Game Was Stolen For Deal With NCAA, CBS

and show up only to get blown out by their opponents. But this year

CBS Sports, the main network televising NCAA games

March Madness: HBCUs Sweep NCAA Play-In Games For A Pair Of Historic Wins  was originally published on