Florida A&M Rattlers (21-13) vs. Niagara Purple Eagles (22-11)
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. ET
FLORIDA A&M RATTLERS
1. Currently holds the record for most racially offensive prior names. Originally established as the State Normal College for Colored Students; apparently, that was deemed to not effectively differentiate it from the rest of the state-run universities. So, the name was changed to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes. Somehow, white guilt infiltrated the state legislature, and the school is now known as just Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
2. The best year. Greatest basketball legend is the 1952 team known as the "FAMU Famed Final Four." No, it's not a reference to THAT final four. The team won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tourney despite playing the final five minutes and two overtimes with only four players after the rest of the team fouled out. The losing team, Alabama State, contemplated dropping basketball after the loss.
3. NBA Factory. FAMU has been a pipeline to the NBA over the years. Or, at least it has been for Jerome James, Clemon Johnson, Samuel Watts and Bob Williams, if you have ever heard of them. The greatest contribution the Rattlers have made to professional sports is that deliciously sexy milk chocolate drop Pam Oliver of Fox Sports. — Nation Of Islam Sports Blog
NIAGARA PURPLE EAGLES
1. We wear purple to stay neutral. MAAC Tournament MVP and freshman Tyrone Lewis was barred from his valedictorian speech at his High School in Levittown, Penn., because of a threat by the ever-popular Bloods. When his sister testified against the gang they shot at Tyrone's car, killing one of his friends after a school dance, and they threatened to get him during his graduation speech. His speech was given over closed-circuit feed from an undisclosed location. When the team traveled to Rider this year for an away game, Tyrone received a police escort from the arena to the team bus based on the high concentration of bloods in the area.
2. Not The First Time. We've been to the NCAA's twice before this, once with Calvin Murphy's team in 1970 and once with All-American Juan Mendez in 2005. In 2005 the school flipped out and NU was a huge story in the media based on its 35-year drought. Going to the NCAAs twice in three years (with an NIT bid the year before that) has been splendid. One more thing: There's no way we're a 16 seed. Jay Bilas said so!
3. Not Guilty, and We're Filthy. Back in August there was a scuffle between some basketball players and some baseball players, which lead to a concussion and some basketball suspensions. Team MVP Charron Fisher was suspended for eight games but the charges were ultimately dropped. During those games we went 2-6; since then we've gone 20-5, including a current 11-game win streak. In that time Fisher averaged 21 points per game and eight rebounds. Opposing fans enjoy singing the "Cops" theme song to our players, because they are completely misinformed. The players eat it up and use it as inspiration to play hard and quiet opposing fans.
Bonus Fact... I'm the Student Body President at the University and have attended every home game except two in my time at NU. To get to this weekend's tournament (since I was broke), I volunteered to wear the Purple Eagle costume and portray Monte the Eagle. That's right: This preview is being written by the mascot. — Eric Clingersmith