March Madness 2012: Norfolk State's Path To March Madness

The saying "There's a first time for everything definitely applies to Norfolk State. The Spartans are making their first appearance in the Big Dance in school history (which dates back to 1935, though the program only moved up to Division I in 1997).

Norfolk State earned their automatic bid by running off a 25-9 regular season record, including 10-4 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and making their way through a minefield of a MEAC Tournament. The Spartans held off stiff challenges from Howard and Florida A&M before defeating Bethune-Cookman 73-70 in the final. Kyle O'Quinn led the way with 18 points, while Pendarvis Williams added 17 and Rob Johnson added 15.

The Spartans played a very creditable non-conference schedule, defeating CAA regular season champions Drexel 61-56 and coming within two points of defeating Big East contender Marquette, finally losing 59-57. Both those games occurred on a neutral floor (the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands), and both proved that Norfolk State could play with anyone.

O' Quinn, Chris McEachin, and Williams lead the Spartans in scoring, averaging 15.9, 12.8, and 11.8 points per game respectively. O'Quinn also handles most of the rebounding duties, averaging 10.4 rebounds per game.

O'Quinn will have to play the game of his life for the No. 15 seed Spartans to defeat No. 2 seed Missouri. The two square off in the Round of 64 Friday afternoon in Omaha, Nebraska.

For more coverage of Norfolk State in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, visit SB Nation DC's NCAA Tournament Stream. For more coverage of the Tigers, visit Rock M Nation. Click here for a link to our NCAA bracket 2012.

Brackets on the brain? Us too! Play Yahoo! Tourney Pick'em and be a part of the craziest month of college basketball. It is fun, easy, and free.

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