A year ago, Hampton charged through the MEAC with four wins in four days to steal the league’s automatic bid as the six-seed in the conference tournament. The Pirates backed that up with a win against Manhattan in the First Four, the program’s second-ever NCAA Tournament victory. With most of the team back in 2016, Hampton surprised no one this year. Hampton had the home-court advantage in Norfolk against South Carolina State, and the crowd was in a frenzy as the team closed a 12-point win with a 14-2 run.
Player to know: Reginald Johnson. The senior guard started his career at Miami (Ohio) then really emerged as a star for Hampton during last season’s MEAC Tournament. After being named to the MEAC Tournament All-Tournament team, scoring in double figures in all four games, Johnson returned this year as one of the Pirates most important players. Johnson averages 18.2 points and 35.9 minutes per game and after playing a big role last year’s First Four win you can be he’ll be ready for the moment again next week.
- Record: 21-10 overall, 13-3 in MEAC
- Most recent tournament appearance: 2015 (beat Manhattan in the First Four then lost to Kentucky as a 16-seed)
- Jerry Palm predicts: 16 seed
- RPI: 164
- KenPom Ranking: 228
- Sagarin Ranking: 242
- Best wins: vs. ULM
- Worst Losses: at Maryland Eastern Shore, vs. Nicholls State
- Notable stat: 35. Hampton’s rotation includes no players taller than 6-foot-9 but the Pirates have been a great offensive rebounding team this year. According to KenPom, Hampton’s offensive rebounding percentage of 35.0 ranks No. 35 nationally.
Closing quip. It’s been 15 years since Hampton made history as one of the seven 15-seeds to win against a 2-seed in the Round of 64. That 58-57 win against Iowa State was Hampton’s first NCAA Tournament appearance after the program’s first conference tournament title. Since then the Pirates have been a force in the MEAC with six tournament titles, three of them coming under Edward Joyner.