RALEIGH, N.C. – The Hampton University men’s basketball team, making its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, will take on top-seeded Virginia in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament on Thursday at approximately 3:10 p.m.
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Last Time Out: The Pirates (21-10) won their second straight MEAC Tournament title this past Saturday with an 81-69 win over South Carolina State. Brian Darden led four Pirates in double figures with 22 points, hitting four 3-pointers and going 8-for-8 from the free throw line, while Reginald Johnson, Jr. – the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player – added 21 points and eight assists. Jervon Pressley added 14 points and nine boards off the bench, and Quinton Chievous had 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Series: Since moving to Div. I in 1995, the Pirates are 0-7 against Virginia. The last meeting was in November 2013, when the Cavaliers defeated Hampton 69-40 in Charlottesville, Va. Six of the previous seven meetings between the two teams have been in Charlottesville. These two teams have yet to face each other on a neutral court.
Pirates Against the ACC: The Pirates are 1-14 all-time against schools currently competing in the ACC, with that win coming against North Carolina on the road, 77-69, in the 2001-02 season. Hampton is 0-1 against Clemson; 0-1 against Duke; 1-2 against North Carolina; 0-1 against N.C. State; 0-1 against Syracuse; 0-7 against Virginia; and 0-1 against Wake Forest. The Pirates have never faced Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Notre Dame, Pitt, or Virginia Tech.
Pirates on Neutral Courts: The Pirates were 6-2 on neutral courts last season, including four wins in the MEAC Tournament and a win over Manhattan in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four. Hampton is 26-14 on neutral courts under head coach Edward Joyner Jr., including an 8-1 mark in 2010-11 – when the Pirates won 24 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Scouting the Cavaliers: Virginia (26-7), in its seventh season under head coach Tony Bennett, is coming off a 61-57 loss to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament final on Saturday. Before that, the No. 4/4 Cavaliers had won five straight. Redshirt senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, the ACC’s Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, is averaging a team-high 18.7 points per game for Virginia, while redshirt senior forward Anthony Gill is averaging 13.3 points and a team-best 6.1 rebounds per contest. Junior guard London Parrantes is averaging 11.0 points a contest.
The Midwest Region: The Cavaliers are the top seed in the Midwest Region, with Big Ten champion Michigan State (29-5) taking the No. 2 seed. Utah (26-8) is the No. 3 seed, and Iowa State (21-11) claimed the No. 4 seed. Purdue (26-8) came in as the No. 5 seed. In the same pod in Raleigh, N.C. as Virginia and Hampton will be No. 8 seed Texas Tech (19-12) and No. 9 seed Butler (21-10); the winner of that game will face either Virginia or Hampton in the Round of 32 on Saturday.
Pirates Picked to Finish Second: The Pirates, coming off of last season’s MEAC Tournament championship, were picked to finish second in the MEAC this season, picking up nine first-place votes in the preseason poll voted on by the conference’s head coaches and sports information directors. Defending MEAC champion North Carolina Central was picked to repeat as conference champions, but the Pirates have clinched the regular-season title, their first since 2002, with a 79-65 win over Delaware State on Feb. 29.
Joyner Reached 100: Entering his seventh season at the helm, Joyner was one win shy of 100 for his career. But when the Pirates defeated American on Nov. 17, he picked up the 100th win of his career as a head coach. The Pirates won 17 games under Joyner last season, and in his six-plus seasons in charge, Hampton has made three postseason appearances – including two NCAA Tournament appearances in 2011 and 2015. At 120-106, Joyner is already Hampton’s all-time winningest Div. I coach, having surpasses Steve Merfield last season.
A Triple Threat: Prior to the game at North Carolina Central on Jan. 18, Hampton was one of just four Div. I programs in which three players are averaging at least 15 points per contest, joining St. Bonaventure, Eastern Washington, and Arkansas. Darden is now below that threshold, averaging 13.2 points per contest, while Johnson is averaging 18.3 points per game and Chievous is pouring in 17.0 points per contest. Altogether, the trio accounts for 45.8 points per contest.
Chievous Making His Presence Felt: Chievous, the Tennessee transfer, made his presence felt for the Pirates last season, especially once the MEAC Tournament started. Chievous had three double-doubles in the last four games of the year, including both NCAA Tournament games. Before that, though, he turned in a bull-in-a-china-shop-esque 23-point, 12-rebound effort in the MEAC Tournament semifinals against Norfolk State. Chievous, who was second in rebounding and third in scoring on the team in 2014-15, was named Preseason First Team All-MEAC heading into the 2015-16 campaign. He opened the 2015-16 season in style on Nov. 14, dropping a career-high 29 points and grabbing a career-best 23 rebounds at Winthrop. Dating back to last season, Chievous has 15 double-doubles in his last 30 games (including 12 this season), and he had a career high-tying 29 points and 14 rebounds against Delaware State. Chievous was named First Team All-MEAC, and he leads the team in rebounding (a MEAC-best 11.0 per game) and is second on the team in scoring at 17.3 points a contest (which ranks fourth in the MEAC). He was also named to the MEAC’s All-Tournament Team.
Johnson Lighting it Up: Johnson Jr., a transfer from Miami (Ohio), was second on the team in scoring last season – despite not playing his first game until Dec. 17 at Illinois. He averaged almost 12 points a game last season, scoring in double figures 14 times in 26 games. His career high of 27 points came at NJIT last season, and Johnson added 21 points in the next game against UMES. Johnson dropped 20 points in the MEAC Tournament championship game against Delaware State, earning MEAC All-Tournament Team honors, and also had 15 points in Hampton’s win over Manhattan in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four. He poured in 19 points in Hampton’s 61-48 win at American, and he dropped a career-high 35 points in a double-overtime win at Northern Arizona. Johnson leads the team and ranks second in the MEAC in scoring (18.3 ppg). Johnson, who was named First Team All-MEAC, has scored in double figures in 27 of his last 30 games. He had 19 points and 13 assists – which tied a MEAC Tournament single-game record – in the Pirates’ quarterfinal win over Morgan State. Johnson, who averaged 19.3 points and 8.3 assists per game for the tournament, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Darden Looking For More: Darden was fifth on the team in scoring last season, just shy of averaging 10 points a contest (9.8). On top of being second in the MEAC in free throw percentage (.845), Darden was ninth in the conference in 3-pointers per game. The MEAC Tournament’s top 3-point shooter had a career-high 23 points at Morgan State back on Feb. 16, going 6-for-7 from behind the arc, and he had 20 points in the championship game of the MEAC Tournament against Delaware State. Darden comes into 2015-16 as a Preseason Second Team All-MEAC selection, and he had 13 points at Winthrop, and he scored 22 at Northern Arizona. Darden is third on the team in scoring, averaging 13.2 points per game, and against Howard on Feb. 27, he became the 28th Pirate to reach the 1,000-point mark. Darden has hit four 3-pointers in each of his last two games – the MEAC Tournament semifinal win over Savannah State and the championship game against South Carolina State.
For more information on Hampton University basketball, please call the Office of Sports Information at (757) 727-5811, or visit the official Pirates website at www.hamptonpirates.com.