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Stan Becton | | March 15, 2023

A complete history of HBCU men's basketball in the NCAA tournament’s First Four and play-in games

North Carolina Central Eagles vs. Texas Southern Tigers: Game Highlights

Alcorn State made history in the early 1980s when it won the first-ever opening round game in NCAA tournament history. Since then, HBCUs have played in 25 out of the 34 opening round or First Four games (74 percent). From 2001-2010, an opening round, play-in game was added to the men's March Madness bracket. HBCUs played in nine of the 10 games, finishing with a 1-7 record. The First Four began in 2011. HBCU have played as the No. 16 seed in the First Four games 15 out of the 24 possible games (63 percent). 

Now, let's dive in to the past performance of the HBCU programs during the First Four and opening rounds.

School Breakdown

Texas Southern has the most First Four and opening-round appearances of any HBCU men's basketball program, winning three of its six games. The Tigers last appeared in a First Four game in 2023 and last won a First Four game in 2022. 

Here's a look at the appearance of HBCUs in the First Four and opening round.

# of Appearances HBCU
6 Texas Southern
3 North Carolina Central, Alcorn State
2 Hampton, Florida A&M, Alabama State
1 Southern, Prairie View A&M, North Carolina A&T,
Norfolk State, Mississippi Valley State,
Coppin State, Alabama A&M

Here's a look at the records of HBCUs, by school, in the First Four or opening rounds.

School Record Win % Last APP
Alabama A&M 0-1 .000 2005
Alabama State 0-2 .000 2011
Alcorn State 2-1 .666 2002
Coppin State 0-1 .000 2008
Florida A&M 1-1 .500 2007
Hampton 1-1 .500 2015
Mississippi Valley State 0-1 .000 2012
Norfolk State 1-0 1.000 2021
North Carolina A&T 1-0 1.000 2013
North Carolina Central 0-3 .000 2019
Prairie View A&M 0-1 .000 2019
Southern 0-1 .000 2016
Texas Southern 3-3 .500 2023


Alcorn State won two of its games during the first two years of the opening round's addition to the men's NCAA tournament in 1983-1984. When the opening round returned from 2001-2010, HBCUs went 1-7 in opening-round games, with Florida A&M's 2004 win standing as the lone victory. HBCUs are 6-8 in First Four games since the round was added in 2011.

Round Year Team
Opening 1983 Alcorn State
  1984 Alcorn State
  2004 Florida A&M
First Four 2013 North Carolina A&T
  2015 Hampton
  2018 Texas Southern
  2021 Norfolk State
  2021 Texas Southern
  2022 Texas Southern

Game results

Here are the results from every First Four and opening round game from an HBCU men's basketball program.

Year School Seed Opponent Result Score
2023 Texas Southern No. 16 FDU L 84-61
2022 Texas Southern No. 16 Texas A&M–Corpus Christi W 76-67
2021 Norfolk State No. 16 Appalachian State W 54–53
  Texas Southern No. 16 Mount St. Mary's W 60–52
2019 Prairie View A&M No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson L 82–76
  North Carolina Central No. 16 North Dakota State L 78–74
2018 Texas Southern No. 16 North Carolina Central W 64–46
  North Carolina Central No. 16 Texas Southern L 64–46
2017 North Carolina Central No. 16 UC Davis L 67–63
2016 Southern No. 16 Holy Cross L 59–55
2015 Hampton No. 16 Manhattan W 74–64
2014 Texas Southern No. 16 Cal Poly L 81–69
2013 North Carolina A&T No. 16 Liberty W 73–72
2012 Mississippi Valley State No. 16 Western Kentucky L 59–58
2011 Alabama State No. 16 UTSA L 70–61
2009 Alabama State No. 16 Morehead State L 58–43
2008 Coppin State No. 16 Mount St. Mary's L 69–60
2007 Florida A&M No. 16 Niagara L 77–69
2006 Hampton No. 16 Monmouth L 71–49
2005 Alabama A&M No. 16 Oakland L 79–69
2004 Florida A&M No. 16 Lehigh W 72–57
2003 Texas Southern No. 16 UNC Asheville L

92–84 (OT)

2002 Alcorn State No. 16 Siena L 81–77
1984 Alcorn State No. 12 Houston Baptist W 79-60
1983 Alcorn State No. 12 Xavier W 81-75

Arkansas-Pine Bluff's 2010 season was vacated for NCAA violations

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