For the first time in 31 years, the Howard Bison are dancing.
The team punched its ticket to this year’s big dance thanks to a thrilling 66-65 win over Norfolk State in the MEAC Tournament.
The Howard 🦬 men’s basketball 🏀 team is heading back to the big dance for the 1st time since ’92‼️ pic.twitter.com/4mjTvaRs6G
— Andscape (@andscape) March 11, 2023
Now, it will take on one of college basketball’s most prestigious programs, the 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this Thursday.
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Here’s everything you need to know about the HBCU playing in just the third March Madness in school history:
Where is Howard University located?
Howard University is one of the nation’s most prestigious historically black universities. Founded in 1867, it is located just north of downtown Washington D.C. It was established by General Oliver Otis Howard, a Civil War hero, as an institution for the education of black clergyman. Today, it serves as a major hub of research, fine arts and humanities.
The Howard Bison men’s basketball team plays its games at Burr Gymnasium located on the school’s campus. The team played its first competitive season just over 50 years ago in 1971-72, and has been a part of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) since its inception.
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When is the last time Howard was in March Madness?
The Bison haven’t been a part of the big dance since all the way back in 1992. In fact, they have posted just three winning records in 31 years since qualifying for the 1992 tournament, two of which came in the last two seasons.
Coincidentally, the 1991-92 squad was also a 16-seed in the tournament which drew 1-seeded Kansas as its first opponent. The Bison were routed, 100-67, by the Jayhawks in the first round. Kansas went on to crash out to UTEP in the second round, with Duke taking home the title.
The only other March Madness appearance in school history came in 1981, when the field consisted of only 48 teams. As a 12-seed (the highest possible seed at that time), the Bison were eliminated by Wyoming in the first round after a 78-43 loss.
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Howard Bison 2022-23 season
This year’s team is helmed by head coach Kenny Blakeney, who is in his fourth season with the Bison. The star players are sophomore guard Elijah Hawkins (13.0 PTS, 3.7 REB, 5.9 AST, 1.7 STL), junior forward Steve Settle III (11.0 PTS, 5.7 REB, 1.1 AST) and freshman forward Shy Odom (10.8 PTS, 4.5 REB, 1.4 AST).
Making it to the tournament required a wild, come-from-behind win over Norfolk State in the MEAC Championship game. Trailing by four points with just 23 seconds left, sophomore Marcus Dockery drilled a clutch three-pointer to cut the lead to one. Norfolk State then turned it over on an attempted inbound pass and proceeded to foul Howard’s Jelani Williams on the ensuing possession. Williams cooly drained both free throws, and after a missed shot on the other end, the Bison were victorious. You can watch the full ending to the game by clicking the link here.
Howard’s squad will now turn its attention to Kansas, one of the most formidable teams in the country. The Bison and the Jayhawks will square off starting at 2 p.m. ET this Thursday, March 16.