A 15-seeded school has won a grand total of four games in NCAA tournament history. The last time this happened, ten years ago, an upstart Hampton squad knocked off Larry Eustachy's 25-6 Iowa State Cyclones by a single point.
It was without a doubt one of the most stunning upsets of all-time, and the image of then-coach Steve Merfeld getting hoisted up by his players will seemingly live on forever.
The Pirates have a track record of making the most of their opportunities. But can Hampton really take down the Dukies and shock the world again?
A breakdown after the jump...
Location: Hampton, Virginia
Record: 24-8 (11-5)
Leading scorers: Kwame Morgan II (16.5); (10.7)(17.7 ppg);
What to know:
- Two Man Team - Juniors Pellum and Morgan combine to take about 60% of Hampton's shots. Not many scoring tandems can come close to that type of usage rate. The duo also nailed 171 threes in 32 games during the regular season, which means they chip in roughly 16 points a game from behind the arc alone. It's rare for a mid-major to have two capable scorers, let alone one, who can shoulder the load on a given night. Even though each guy tends to get a little erratic from downtown, this offensive-minded pair can light up the scoreboard in a hurry.
- Close Out Defensively - Only a handful of teams are more efficient at forcing opponents to take bad shots. As such, the Pirates are holding offenses to an astonishing 40.6% on two-pointers and 31.2% on threes. Most of this can be attributed to 6'8" junior Danny Agbelese, who is statistically the most prolific shot-blocker (13.69% block percentage, 5th in NCAA) in the entire tournament.
- Self-Destruction - Even with a 24-8 record and a MEAC title on its resume, we're talking about a team that checked in at No. 212 out of 345 schools in Ken Pomeroy's tempo-free ranking system. This is especially telling because the Pirates grade out quite well at the defensive end of the floor, but are handicapped by a completely anemic offense. Despite having two dangerous shooters out on the perimeter, Hampton owns a 46.1% effective field goal percentage and hits less than 65% of its attempts from the foul line. Worst of all, the Pirates can't seem to stop opposing big men from getting second chance baskets. Poor defensive rebounding simply won't cut it against an elite team like the Blue Devils.
Seed/Outlook: #16. It was quite a fine season for these Hampton Pirates, but on Friday it will all be a memory...
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