Happy Friday! This past week has been an interesting one for my alma mater and current place of employment, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. The men’s basketball team made history on last Saturday by winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship, thus securing their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 1995. On top of that, they defeated Liberty University in a thrilling buzzer beater on Tuesday to advance to the next round of play.
For the last four days there has been an aura of excitement on the campus unlike any I’ve experienced. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and the Greensboro community were thrilled at the mere fact A&T secured a tournament spot. However, there was an explosion of elation following the Liberty win. Even though the Aggies next opponent would be the No. 1 seeded Louisville Cardinals, you couldn’t crush their optimism. For two days straight there was major coverage of the Aggies in our local newspaper and in major mainstream outlets as Fox Sports Network and USA Today.
Even though A&T lost to Louisville by a significant margin they still have much to be proud of. They went from a 15-16 regular season to winning the conference championship and first round game of the NCAA tournament. Sounds like a success story to me.
Head coach Cy Alexander deserves a load of credit. In his first year as coach he took the men’s basketball program farther than anyone imagined possible. At the end of the day the program has an added boost of credibility and a new championship banner to hang in the Corbett Sports Center. Winning games and improving the overall reputation should be the goal of any collegiate athletics program. Alexander and his players accomplished both within the last week.
I would also like to make a special mention of Southern University. Last night, the Southwestern Athletic Conference champions made history in their own right when they nearly upset top-seeded Gonzaga University. I didn’t watch the game, but read a report on ESPN.com shortly after its conclusion and was stunned to discover the final score was 64-58. Had Gonzaga lost they would’ve became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed. Wow!
The story of the NCAA tournament is to always expect the unexpected. In that sense, Southern and A&T did not disappoint.