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Final touches in place for Norfolk State NCAA Tournament opener

The Spartans tip off against the defending national champs, Baylor on Thursday.

NORFOLK, Va. — At least there is comfort in knowing that it has been done before. Prior to UMBC shocking UVA, the #16 seeds had never beaten a #1. That is what Norfolk State is looking at in their first round game of the NCAA Tournament.

The Spartans open round one as a #16 against #1 seeded Baylor. Of course, the Bears are also the defending national champs.

You want to playing your best basketball of the season at tournament time. NSU is in that category. Forward Kris Bankston thinks they're in a good place coming off their MEAC Tournament championship, "Everything feels like it's going to plan. We worked hard all summer for this moment and it came true so the feeling is actually great. It's amazing."

Norfolk State is (24-6) this season. Last year they won their First Four game in March Madness and then #1 seeded Gonzaga blew out the Spartans in their first round game. Head coach Robert Jones says there are things learned from last year's experience, "They just learned that about the physicality that you have to play with, the speed that you've got to play with to make sure you can compete with a team like Baylor."

Joe Bryant Jr. passed along this message to his teammates, "Never take it for granted. Keep working hard."

This is the big stage in college basketball. What makes the Spartans think they can handle it? Guard, Christian Ings has the answer, "We've got a lot of big time performers, people that don't get scared under the bright lights. I feel like in that game, we'll be able to show what we've got."

 

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