Southern and North Carolina A&T may have only combined for one win in three NCAA Tournament games, but they gave a lot of people a lot to cheer about for two days.
NC A&T kicked it off with their First Four matchup against Liberty on Tuesday. With both teams coming from nowhere to claim at-large bids in their conference tournaments, no one knew quite what to expect. What we got was a thriller that went down to the wire, with A&T coming up with a 73-72 win. It was the program’s first NCAA win in 10 tries, but the buzz on social media extended way past A&T students, alumni and supporters. Aggie Pride had hit the entire HBCU Nation.
It continued on Thursday afternoon, when Southern decided it was going to try and become the first 16-seed to defeat a number one seed. And it almost did, playing like it belonged from start to finish, getting people to bet against their brackets and almost pulling off the impossible. They lost 64-58, but proved that Boys From The Bayou could ball, too.
The last of the three games proved to be anti-climactic, as top-seeded Louisville beat up on NC A&T, 79-48.
Thursday’s losses aside, as an HBCU alum, you had to feel proud watching Southern and A&T battle. Like any other schools, we have our rivals. Even as an alum of one of NC A&T’s rival schools, I found myself cheering for the Aggies. You think that happens with Duke and UNC or Ohio State and Michigan? Not a chance.
For a few hours this week, HBCUs shined bright enough that everyone had to recognize. And though we will go back to being rivals now that the tournament is over, we all know that eventually, we’ll all end up back on the same team.