As an alumnus of an HBCU, basketball season doesn't start for me until tournament time. I look at the regular season as nothing more than a glorified pre-season, because most of the HBCUs will not have a record good enough to get an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament.
Therefore, winning the conference tournament is the only ticket to The Big Dance. I remember the year I covered the SWAC Tournament, Prairie View A&M University, had not won a game in the conference during the regular season. However, during the tournament, they swept the field and won the SWAC Tournament, giving them the chance to play in the NCAA Tournament, and basically being a guaranteed first-round casualty.
No historically black college has won the NCAA Tournament, and with the way recruiting goes, it would be a "Hoosiers" moment if one did. However, it is good exposure for the young men and women to go to the NCAA Tournament, as well as bragging rights in the conference they play in. It gives the alumni one glimmer of hope that this year could be the year, but as a lifelong Cubs fan, I can tell you that is more of a burden than a joy.
Nevertheless, I am getting ready to go through the process, my hopes for my alma mater rising and falling with every jump shot and free throw. I will be glad if my school gets to The Big Dance one more time and I will proud of their efforts even though they will out of the tournament in the first round. That is why they call it March Madness.