HBCUs have often been viewed as underdogs in NCAA basketball. However, given that the ball is round in basketball, there’s a reason why we still continue to play the games. In fact, throughout history, we’ve seen some HBCU basketball teams successfully pull the rug. For this piece, let’s take a look at 15 HBCU basketball teams that won NCAA Tournament games.

2021 Norfolk State

The 2021 Norfolk State squad ended their NCAA tournament drought after dispatching Morgan State, 71-63 to clinch an NCAA tournament appearance. However, they weren’t just happy to be there. The Spartans led as much as 19 against Appalachian State. Although the Mountaineers clawed back into the game in the second half, Norfolk State held on to secure a 54-53 historic victory to become one of two teams to win in the same NCAA tournament for the first time. Jalen Hawkins paced the Spartans with 24 big points.

2012 Norfolk State

Before their 2021 campaign, Norfolk State made history in 2012 when they made their first NCAA tournament appearance after beating Bethune-Cookman 73-70. But despite going against second-seeded Missouri, the Spartans pulled off the impossible thanks to Kyle O’ Quinn’s monster game of 26 points and 14 rebounds.

2021 Texas Southern

In 2021, aside from Norfolk State, Texas Southern joined the Spartans as the two HBCU teams to win in the same NCAA tournament for the first time. Despite facing a 10-point halftime deficit against Mount St. Mary’s, the Tigers mounted a rally in the second half capped off by a crucial 8-0 run. John Walker III led the Tigers with 19 points and nine rebounds.

2022 Texas Southern

After making history in 2021, the Tigers followed up the season with another NCAA tournament victory. Going against Texas A&M – CC, the Tigers rode on Bryson Etienne’s 21-point explosion off the bench to advance into the first round. Texas Southern became only the second HBCU team to win three NCAA tournament games.

2018 Texas Southern

But while the Tigers accomplished back-to-back victories in the NCAA tournament from 2021-2022, it was the foundation they built in 2018 that started it all. In an NCAA tournament game that featured two HBCU teams going head to head for the first time, it was the Tigers who emerged victorious. Thanks to Demontrae Jefferson’s 25-point and eight-rebound performance, the Tigers blew out North Carolina Central, 64-46.

1980 Alcorn State

Among the HBCU teams that emerged victorious in the NCAA tournament, it was Alcorn State that became the first to do so. Heading into the tournament, the Braves were on a hot 21-game winning streak, led by eventual NBA player Larry Smith. Smith continued to lead the way for Alcorn State by dropping a monster 18-point, 17-rebound double-double performance to defeat South Alabama 70-62.

1983 Alcorn State

Three years after making history for HBCU basketball programs, Alcorn State notched their second victory in the NCAA tournament after defeating Xavier 81-75 in the preliminary round. Michael Phelps emerged as the best player for the Braves, tallying 18 points and six steals.

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1984 Alcorn State

After notching their second victory in the NCAA tournament, the Braves took care of business once again in the following year. Michael Phelps starred for the team again, this time against Houston Baptist. In the 79-60 blowout win, Phelps dropped 21 huge points.

1993 Southern

After Alcorn State paved the way for HBCU teams, it was the 1993 Southern Jaguars that followed suit. The Jaguars rode on a 54-point second half to put away 18th-seeded Georgia Tech for a 93-78 victory. Jervaughn Scales led the way with 27 points and 18 rebounds while Leonard White chipped in with a double-double of his own with 18 points and 11 boards. It marked the first time an HBCU team emerged victorious in the round of 64.

1997 Coppin State

Upsets often make up a great underdog story, and this was the case for the 1997 Coppin State Eagles. Despite facing second-seed South Carolina, the Eagles overcame the insurmountable odds by taking a 78-65 upset win. Danny Singletary and Antoine Brockington combined for 42 points in the historic victory to become just the second HBCU team to win in the round of 64.

2001 Hampton

After Coppin State pulled off a huge upset, it would take four more years before another HBCU squad emerged victorious in the NCAA tournament. The 2001 Hampton Pirates faced a favored Jamaal Tinsley-led Iowa State. In a tight affair, Tarvis Williams shined the brightest with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and six rejections to tow the Pirates to a slim 58-57 win.

2015 Hampton

14 years later, Hampton notched their second victory in the NCAA tournament. The Pirates rode on the backs of Reginald Johson Jr. and Quinton Chievous who had 15 points apiece to take a much-needed 74-64 win over Manhattan.

2013 North Carolina A&T

Despite losing 16 games during the regular season, North Carolina A&T found a way to sweep the MEAC tournament in 2013. But if that wasn’t enough, the Aggies would go on to take a 73-72 win over Liberty. Despite averaging only 6.4 games for the Aggies, Jeremy Underwood exploded for 19 points in the crucial victory.

2010 Arkansas-Pine Bluff

The Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions have only appeared in the NCAA tournament once. However, their first and only appearance was enough for them to make a statement. They captured a 61-44 win over the Winthrop Eagles in the opening round. Allen Smith led all scorers with 14 markers.

2004 Florida A&M

The Florida A&M Rattlers have appeared in the NCAA Tournament three times. Among their campaigns, the Rattlers’ best campaign was in 2004 when they notched their lone victory over Lehigh, 72-57. Terrence Woods shined the brightest with 24 points and five steals in the Rattlers’ lone NCAA tournament win.