Saturday, March 19, 2011

13 things about Hampton-Kentucky

In honor of Hampton getting a No. 13 seed - and the fact that the Lady Pirates are riding a 13-game winning streak - here are 13 random facts about Saturday's NCAA first-round game against No. 4 Kentucky.

1. The game will be played at "The Pit," the University of New Mexico's 17,126-seat arena and one of the most famous facilities in college basketball. Sports Illustrated named it one of the top 20 venues in any sport, one spot behind England's Wembley Stadium and ahead of Camden Yards, Daytona International Speedway and the Rose Bowl.

2. Las Vegas odds have Kentucky as a 9-point favorite (for entertainment purposes only, of course).

3. Hampton is 1-6 lifetime against SEC schools - the win came in December against Florida - while Kentucky is 5-0 all-time against MEAC schools.

4. These two teams have never met in women's basketball.

5. Hampton and Kentucky are two of the 27 schools that qualified teams for both the men's and women's Division I NCAA basketball tournaments.

6. Hampton and Kentucky each average 5.3 3-point field goals per game.

7. Kentucky may have the higher profile, but Hampton actually has a richer women's basketball tradition. Under coach James Sweat, the the Lady Pirates were a Division II power in the 1980s, advancing to the national quarterfinals in four straight seasons and winning the D-II national title in 1988.

8. The following year, for reasons that still aren't totally clear, Sweat abruptly left Hampton and took over at Norfolk State. For those who aren't aware of the Hampton-NSU rivalry - or at least what it used to be - that's sort of like Pat Summitt leaving Tennessee to coach UConn.

9. Hampton is 0-4 in four trips to the Division I NCAA Tournament. The losses were by 71 points to UConn, by 44 to Texas, by 37 to Penn State and by 35 last year at Duke.

10. Kentucky is 7-7 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 4-3 in the first round.

11. Kentucky assistant coach Matt Insell, 28, is the son of Middle Tennessee State coach Rick Insell.

12. A few weeks ago, we wrote that Hampton point guard Jericka Jenkins was to coach David Six as the blanket was to Linus. During his pre-tournament press conference Friday, Six said, "We call (Jericka) the Linus blanket of the team." You think Six has been reading us?

13. If so, this one's for you, Coach - our pick is Hampton 69, Kentucky 66. Now go out and shock the world.

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