|Norfolk State hopes to extend its winning streak to 10 games against rival Hampton Monday night.|
Don’t look now, but a high-stakes HBCU rivalry game is about to hit prime time television. MEAC-leading Norfolk State will travel up Interstate-64 to face rival Hampton in a game that will air on ESPNU at 7 p.m.
Both teams enter the game on big winning streaks. Hampton (10-13) picked up their fifth win in a row of Delaware State last week. Norfolk (16-10) is currently ridding a 10-game winning streak, and the defending MEAC champs are hoping to remain undefeated in conference play.
The rivalry between these two teams runs deep. The two schools are less than 20 miles apart. Both are formerly members of the CIAA who made the move to Division I in the mid-1990s. Since Hampton moved up to DI in 1995, they lead the series 19-17.
But history aside, tonight’s game is an important one. North Carolina Central’s 44-36 loss to Savannah State left Norfolk State as the sole undefeated team (11-0) in conference play.
Hampton has rebounded from a 3-10 start to win 7 of 10 MEAC contests. One of those three losses was a 74-66 heart breaker at Norfolk State on Jan. 26. In his weekly coaching show, NSU coach Anthony Evans praised Hampton for its recent play.
“They’re really playing well” he said. “It’s going to be important for us to defensively to come out and establish ourself and continue to execute offensively.”
The job that Evans has done at NSU is pretty remarkable. After losing Kyle O’Quinn to the NBA, the Spartans were picked to finish fourth in the conference. They have exceeded all expectations, and with the conference tournament being held in their gym this year, they will likely be the favorites to win it all. Still, Ed Joyner and Hampton just might have the most dangerous team come tournament time. We’ll be on upset watch for this one.