Eric Myers

March Madness Revisited: 2012 Norfolk State makes history against Missouri in 15 vs. 2 upset

March Madness Revisited: 2012 Norfolk State makes history against Missouri in 15 vs. 2 upset

As March wound down without its usual flurry of March Madness moments, NBC Sports Washington took a look back at some smaller DMV schools who made a big impact during their most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.  

Eight years later, Philadelphia 76ers forward Kyle O’Quinn still remembers the euphoria from the long walk through the tunnels at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. 

To him, it felt like the longest walk ever as he and his Norfolk State teammates were “walking on clouds” after his 15th-seeded Spartans upset the second-seeded Missouri Tigers, 86-84, in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. 

In what was Norfolk State’s first — and to date, its only — tournament appearance, the Spartans put the small Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school from Virginia on the map and wrecked brackets around the nation, becoming the first No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 seed since 2001 when then-MEAC rival Hampton beat Iowa State. 

“You’re hoping that you can win this game because very few have done it,” O’Quinn told NBC Sports Washington. “It came down to us believing that we’re just as good as the other team. We took the names off the jerseys, the names off the backs, we didn’t care who their coach was, and we just played.”

As O’Quinn made that journey through the tunnels, he yelled, “We messed up some brackets! We messed up some brackets!"

While Norfolk State celebrated in the locker room, droves of college basketball fans — including President Barack Obama, who projected Missouri to be a Final Four participant — faced the reality that their bracket was ruined in the first round. 

Given the history of No. 2 seeds against No. 15 seeds, combined with the fact that Missouri was a team that some analysts thought should have received a No. 1 seed, most wrote off Norfolk State. While analysts, fans, pundits and even the President advanced Missouri through the first round without much thought, then-head coach Anthony Evans went to work on a game plan. 

“We thought we could match up. Obviously, they had better players, but the matchup would be similar in the style of play,” Evans told NBC Sports Washington. “We were confident. And I knew [O’Quinn] would be an X-factor.”

Evans’ prediction came to fruition as the game played out. O’Quinn established a presence in the low post, allowing the Spartans to jump out to an early lead. Missouri did counter and the game was tied 38-38 at the half. 

But Norfolk State created mounting pressure as it hung around in the second half. The Spartans also benefited from the presence of Kansas fans, who were preparing to watch the second-seeded Jayhawks later that evening and cheered for the upset over a Big 12 rival.

“At some point, the pressure was going to build on them because they were seeded so high,” Evans said. “They were going to feel it as we stayed in it.”

Pressure intensified with 34 seconds to play when O’Quinn caught a teammate's errant 3-point attempt, an airball, and hit a layup while drawing a foul. O’Quinn’s ensuing free throw put the Spartans up 84-81. 

But Missouri still had a chance in the waning seconds. Star guard Phil Pressey pushed the ball up the floor and pulled up for a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded. 

“I could watch it 10 times right now, and I still think it might go in,” O’Quinn said. “I can still see the shot going in and it being one of those things where it’s like ‘Well they fought, and they just fell a little short.’”

That wasn’t the case, though. Instead, Pressey’s attempt caromed off the rim, igniting an on-court celebration years in the making for O’Quinn, a senior from New York City playing in his final college games. He scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. It was a breakout game where O’Quinn made a name for himself and paved his way to becoming a second-round NBA draft pick — a far cry from when he received one scholarship offer out of high school.

O’Quinn received help from his teammates, too. Norfolk State’s five starters scored all 86 of the team’s points. Guards Chris McEachin and Pendarvis Williams dropped 20 points each, while forwards Marcos Tamares and Rodney McCauley added 11 and nine, respectively. Two days after the historic upset, seventh-seeded Florida routed the Spartans, 84-50. 

Still, Norfolk State had added its name to NCAA tournament upset lore in its first-ever appearance in the Big Dance and that’s something that can never be taken away from anybody on that team. To this day, only eight No. 15 seeds have beaten a No. 2. Ironically, half of them are from Virginia (Richmond over Syracuse in 1991, Hampton over Iowa State in 2001 and Norfolk State in 2012) or Maryland (Coppin State beat South Carolina in 1997). And UMBC remains the only No. 16 to beat a No. 1 with its historic win over Virginia in 2018. It is a club the Spartans will always be a part of.  

“Number one,” O’Quinn said without hesitation when asked where that moment ranks in his basketball career. “It’s just the pride of the name on your jersey...That game, to stand out that much and impact so many lives, it has to be number one.”

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Landon Collins and Derrius Guice debate Alabama vs. LSU in Twitter exchange

Landon Collins and Derrius Guice debate Alabama vs. LSU in Twitter exchange

Just as safety Landon Collins left Alabama after three years, running back Derrius Guice was about to begin his college career at LSU. 

The two never squared off against one another on the field. But as both players continue their staunch allegiance to their respective college teams, the two now-Redskins teammates squared off against one another with a series of tweets to debate the heated Alabama-versus-LSU rivalry.

Tuesday's Twitter debate centered around the what-could-have-been notion if Collins chose LSU over Alabama coming out of high school. During his prep years, Collins cemented himself as the No. 1 recruit in the state of Lousiana, according to 247 Sports, but opted to spurn the hometown power in favor of the Crimson Tide. 

The exchange began after Collins' said during a Twitter question-and-answer that he'd rather send his kids to LSU than be quarantined with New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman, who let him hit free agency last season.

A fan quote-tweeted his answer and said that Collins should have donned the purple-and-gold during his college days. But Collins, who won a national championship in 2013, has hardware that he feels validates his decision.

That's when Guice got involved.

During those players' college careers, before Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa lit up the scoreboard during the 46-41 shootout in 2019, the annual matchup between the two SEC rivals was typically a low-scoring affair.

Alabama won all three matchups against LSU during Collins' career. The Tigers still put together solid seasons during that timeframe, but Guice feels that Collins could have pushed those teams to another level. 

Collins, though, pointed to the other side of the ball, where points often came difficult to the LSU offense in the ground-and-pound scheme the Tigers have since abandoned. 

When it comes to Alabama and LSU, the two teammates will likely never see eye-to-eye. But now that burgundy and gold unites them, they do share the same thoughts on winning a championship together with the Redskins. 

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How to Watch Wizards vs. Suns NBA 2K20 simulation and Bradley Beal's 51-point game vs. Portland

How to Watch Wizards vs. Suns NBA 2K20 simulation and Bradley Beal's 51-point game vs. Portland

Wednesday night was supposed to be an opportunity for the Wizards to pick up a much-needed home victory against a lowly Phoenix Suns team. But instead of that chance to continue a late playoff push, the players are home as the NBA season remains suspended during the coronavirus.

The sports hiatus continues, but Wizards basketball is still available in an alternative form. For those sports fans clamoring action to consume, tune into the regularly scheduled Wizards vs. Suns game as the NBA 2K20 video-game simulation fills the void. 

It'll be like watching a 2K20 game where the computer has full autonomy over the outcome. Gameplay will also be coupled with commentary from NBC Sports Washington's Wizards experts.

After the conclusion of the game, be sure to stick around for a replay of a December 2017 game between the Wizards and Trailblazers when Bradley Beal poured in a then-career-high 51 points to lead Washington to the victory.

Here's everything you need to get your Wizards fix on Wednesday night. 

When:

Wednesday, March 25 at 7 PM ET

Where:

  • NBC Sports Washington (channel finder
  • Any of our 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms
  • Monumental Sports Network via its website www.monumentalsportsnetwork.com or via any of its available apps on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Xbox.

Broadcast schedule

7:00 PM: NBA2K Simulation: Phoenix Suns @ Wizards (P)

8:00 PM: NBA Classics: Wizards @ Portland Trailblazers (R)

10:30 PM: NBA2K Simulation: Phoenix Suns @ Wizards (R)

Starting lineups

The nice part about this is we don't have to wait as long to know the starting lineups. Just don't tell the 2K computer. 

Wizards
PG - Shabazz Napier
SG - Bradley Beal
SF - Troy Brown Jr.
PF - Rui Hachimura
C - Moe Wagner

Suns
PG - Devin Booker
SG - Mikal Bridges
SF - Dario Saric
PF - Deandre Ayton
C - Aron Baynes

So if you're like us and desperately miss watching NBA basketball, tune into NBC Sports Washington on Wednesday night to get the closest thing to a live game. We'll get through this hiatus together. 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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