Saturday, December 4, 2021

Huskies and Pirates possible second-round foes

March 15, 2002

If MSU is able to knock off North Carolina State today, it will face one of two formidable opponents.

No. 2 seed Connecticut takes on No. 15 seed Hampton immediately following the MSU-N.C. State matchup at MCI Center in Washington, D.C. in the East Region.

Connecticut (24-6) started the season winning six of eight games against nontournament teams.

The Huskies steadily improved and ended the regular season by reeling off six-straight wins. And the momentum didn’t stop there, as UConn won three more to take home the Big East Tournament Championship.

The Huskies are led by 6-foot-7 forward Caron Butler, who averages 19.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. UConn also boosts 6-9 forward Emeka Okafor, who averages 7.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game.

However, the Huskies shouldn’t take No. 15 seeded Hampton for granted.

The Pirates (26-6) pulled the biggest upset of last year’s tournament when they shocked No. 2 seed Iowa State, 58-57.

It was only the fourth time in NCAA Tournament history, since it was expanded to 64 teams, that a No. 15 seed knocked off a No. 2 seed. The last time was in 1997 when Richmond beat South Carolina 78-65.

The last two seasons the Pirates amassed 50 wins and two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Titles.

Hampton opened the season winning eight of its first nine games. The Pirates then won 14 in a row before losing to Howard in the regular season finale.

Hampton got its revenge when it defeated the Bisons in the conference tournament final.

The Pirates are led by 6-3 guard Tommy Adams, who averages 19.7 points and 3.0 assists per game. 6-5 guard Isaac Jefferson also is dangerous. He averages 9.7 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

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