Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hampton storms to MEAC title and NCAAs

We've been saying for weeks now that Hampton looks like the class of the MEAC. Now, the Lady Pirates have the hardware to prove it.

The second-seeded Lady Pirates outclassed No. 8 South Carolina State 57-46 in Saturday's MEAC title game, completing the final step in a dominant three-game tournament run. Hampton won its first game by 24 points; its second by 20. The Lady Pirates have now won 14 of their last 15 games.

Not that anyone at ESPN cares. Although the network has the rights to the MEAC tournament, the so-called Worldwide Leader opted against airing Saturday's 5 p.m. final live. Instead, the game will be televised Sunday at 11 a.m. Love to see the ratings for that one. I mean, why even bother showing it at all? End of rant.

With the win, Hampton (20-11) becomes the first Virginia Division I school to cement an NCAA Tournament bid. Two more will be on the line Sunday when Old Dominion plays host James Madison in the CAA final (12:30 p.m., Comcast) and Liberty takes on Gardner-Webb in the Big South title game (2 p.m., MASN). Also, Virginia will surely receive an at-large bid when the field is announced Monday at 7 p.m. (ESPN). And JMU will likely receive an invitation no matter what happens against ODU.

As for Hampton's NCAA Tournament prospects, projections by both and have the Lady Pirates as a No. 15 seed. Such a seeding would make it unlikely that Hampton could open NCAA Tournament play in Norfolk (Old Dominion is one of 16 hosts for the first two rounds), especially if the Lady Monarchs win their way into the field Sunday. ESPN projects the Lady Pirates to play their first-round game against Duke in Durham. Not only would such a pairing make regional sense, but it would also serve as something of a learning experience for the Lady Pirates. With its myriad of presses and traps, Duke is sort of a souped-up version of Hampton. Maybe the Lady Pirates could pick up a few tips....

But Hampton can worry about that next week. For now, it's party time, because the newly crowned MEAC champs are going dancin'.

Oh, and by the way, wouldn't this would be a good time to remove the interim tag from head coach David Six's title?

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