Hampton vs. Howard (MEAC)
Madison Square Garden -- New York, NY (Big Apple Classic)
9:00 PM EST
We figure you already know about the big mid-major vs. major games on Saturday's docket (Duke-Davidson in Charlotte, Indiana @ SIU, Michigan @ Harvard, Seton Hall @ Saint Mary's, Texas Tech @ Centenary, etc.), those matchups speak for themselves. So we'll use this space to give some hype to a fantastic event that may have slipped your radar.
This is the second annual Big Apple Classic
, an opportunity for historically black colleges to play in the World's Most Famous. And of course, it'll be a celebration of all the atmospheric elements that make HBCU hoops so great: there'll be a stepshow and a drumline competition during the afternoon. Then, as the sun sinks low over Manhattan, the doubleheader's first game will feature Virginia Union and Bowie State, two CIAA giants who have torn up Division II in recent years. (And if anything, it's an opportunity to see former Temple enforcer Anthony Ivory
But the main course is the HU-HU battle, the MEAC opener for both schools. Hampton's certainly been in the news lately, as the Pirates knocked off VCU
on Thursday to go 2-0 versus the CAA (they beat Delaware last weekend), and gave Holy Cross, Kent State and Maryland all they could handle early on. Rashad West and Vincent Simpson make up a high scoring backcourt (29.1 ppg between them), and 6-9 Donte Harrison holds down the middle. Then there's enigmatic sophomore forward Matt Pilgrim, who I've continually said is the best player in the MEAC when his head's on straight.
Howard won the first Big Apple Classic matchup between these two last season (95-84
), but that was last season. At the Philly Classic last weekend, they seemed borderline dysfunctional in two bad losses -- and overly reliant on 6-5 junior Eugene Myatt (19.0 ppg, 52 percent FG), who likes shooting the rock a whole lot more than he likes anything else that has to do with basketball. Indeed, the Bison were missing 6-5 senior Randy Hampton and promising freshman guard Kyle Riley (two key cogs in head coach Gil Jackson's machinery) but Jackson said they'd return in time for this game. If anything, I'd think they wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to play on that hallowed floor at 34th and 7th, five stories above street level.HAMP 65, HOW 31