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March Madness

Virginia Union women’s team is the only remaining Division II HBCU team playing

Five others lost in NCAA Division II tournament; NCCU men’s team bounced from Division I tourney

Six historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) entered the first round of the NCAA Division II basketball tournaments last week.

Bowie State (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) champion), Clark Atlanta (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) champion) and Virginia Union (at-large) were the three representatives on the men’s side, while Benedict College (SIAC), Johnson C. Smith University (CIAA) and Virginia Union (at-large) held it down in the women’s bracket.

As of Wednesday, only Virginia Union’s women’s team remained in the running for a Division II national championship, as the third-seeded Lady Panthers beat Wheeling Jesuit, Indiana (Pennsylvania), and California (Pennsylvania) to earn a spot in the quarterfinals on March 21. Virginia Union will square off against Columbus State at noon on March 21.

Virginia Union is in familiar territory. The Lady Panthers were in the Division II quarterfinals last year, but they lost to Bentley University of Massachusetts. They were led by All-American and player of the year Kiana Johnson, who is now playing overseas in Finland.

Clark Atlanta, which reached the tournament thanks to a 64-62 win over Fort Valley State in the SIAC championship, Bowie State and Virginia Union all lost in the opening round of the men’s tournament. Benedict and Johnson C. Smith are also out of the women’s tournament.

Benedict’s squad, a No. 3 seed, joined the Panthers team as the only HBCU to make it out of the opening round. Johnson C. Smith lost to Indiana (Pennsylvania), the team that played Virginia Union in the second round on March 10.

On the Division I side, North Carolina Central was dropped in the First Four on Wednesday night by the University of California-Davis, 67-63, in Dayton, Ohio.

Both Texas Southern’s men’s and women’s teams and Hampton’s women’s team are waiting to play their Division I NCAA tournament games later this week.

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn't drop his second album.