Sneak Peek: Norfolk State to face Appalachian State in NCAA Tournament First Four
After years of coming oh-so-close to getting back to the Big Dance following their monumental upset of No. 2 seed Missouri, Norfolk State will make its way back into the NCAA Tournament this Thursday when the Spartans take on Appalachian State in the First Four.
Game time is set for 8:40 p.m. at Indiana University’s Assembly Hall. Both teams enter as No. 16 seeds in the tournament, with the winner advancing to take on overall No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday.
The game will be shown live on truTV as well as through the NCAA March Madness Live app. Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Avery Johnson will be on the call, with Evan Washburn serving as the sideline reporter.
The game can be heard live on WNSB Blazin’ Hot 91 FM. It is only available on terrestrial radio and is not available online. NCAA.com will have live stats.
Appalachian State: At a glance
The Mountaineers won the Sun Belt Championship after winning four games in four days, two of those going to overtime. They went 7-8 in the regular season in the league and 17-11 overall. Appalachian State is led by four players in double figures. Adrian Delph (13.2), Justin Forrest (13.0) and Michael Almonacy (12.9) are all battling for the team scoring lead, and all have made at least 45 3-pointers on the season. Donovan Gregory is not far behind those three at 10.7 points with a team-best 6.0 rebounds. The Mountaineers hold teams to just 64.5 points per game and are +2.4 in turnover margin.
Last time out
Norfolk State took the lead from Morgan State midway through the first half and never gave it up in a 71-63 win over the Bears on Saturday in the MEAC Tournament final at Norfolk Scope Arena. NSU led by double digits for a good portion of the second half, winning the tournament for the first time in eight tries since it moved to Norfolk in 2013 (the 2020 tournament was cancelled). Tournament MVP Joe Bryant Jr. scored 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting and helped limit the Bears to just 39 percent shooting. Kashaun Hicks finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, and Devante Carter added 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists to also earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team. The Spartans forced 18 turnovers and scored 24 points off those giveaways.
NSU is making its second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Its first famously came, of course, in 2012 when the No. 15 seed Spartans knocked off No. 2 seed Missouri in the first round, 86-84, a win considered the biggest in NCAA history in terms of point spread. Kyle O’Quinn (26 points, 14 rebounds), Pendarvis Williams and Chris McEachin (20 points each) led the way that afternoon in Omaha, Nebraska, in what was, at the time, just the fifth ever 15-over-2 upset in tournament history.
The Spartans are also making their eight postseason appearance in their Division I era (1997-Present) and all have come since 2012. NSU went to the NIT in 2013 after winning the conference’s regular season title at 16-0 and in 2019 after winning the regular season title again (14-2). NSU also faced Eastern Michigan (2014), Eastern Kentucky (2015), Columbia (2016) and Liberty (2017) in the CollegeInsider.com tournaments. Since 2012, NSU has failed to make the postseason just one time it was held, in 2018.