The Howard Bison were the conference champions, but they’ll face a challenge from the North Carolina Central, Norfolk State, and Maryland Eastern Shore, with the event’s winner advancing to the Big Dance.
The MEAC media guide is available online, and the conference website offers a printable bracket for download.
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2023 MEAC Tournament Preview
The eight-team MEAC Tournament tips off Wednesday with a pair of first-round matchups and concludes with the MEAC Championship game Saturday, March 11, on ESPN2.
Statistics referenced in the MEAC preview are from Kenneth Pomeroy.
Howard Bison 19-12 (11-3)
Howard won the regular season by a narrow margin but isn’t the betting favorite to win the event. Still, the Bison have a two-game winning streak on the line entering its Wednesday night matchup with No. 8 seed South Carolina State. Howard defeated SC State both times by a +14 point margin, and they should roll through this first-round encounter.
We call ourselves #TheDreamFactory, but the reality is we can call ourselves CHAMPS now too.
— Howard Men’s Basketball (@HUMensBB) March 4, 2023
The Bison boast the top effective field goal and three-point shooting percentages for the conference’s 2nd most efficient offense. What the Bison don’t do is challenge shots and are mediocre defensively as a team. Leading scorer Elijah Hawkins leads the Bison in scoring and assists but is coming off a poor shooting night.
Phil’s Betting Nugget: The Bison went 1-2 on neutral courts this season but 2-1 ATS and 1-2 to the Under.
North Carolina Central Eagles 17-11 (10-4)
The Eagles finished 2nd on the MEAC table and have a seven-game winning streak on the line when they face No. 7 seed Delaware State Wednesday. North Carolina Central defeated Delaware State twice by a +12 margin and should get through their 1st round matchup.
Eagles cap the season off with 7 wins in a row 🦅🔥 pic.twitter.com/RjuHPCapnK
— NCCU Men's Basketball (@NCCU_MBB) March 3, 2023
The Eagles flex its muscle on the defensive end of the court–North Carolina Central tops the conference in opponents’ effective field goal and three-point shooting percentages but has a high turnover rate and 2nd worst three-point shooting percentage in the MEAC. Leading scorer Justin Wright has struggled over his last five from beyond the arc, making the worst long-range shooting team in the conference even worse.
Phil’s Betting Nugget: The Eagles haven’t played on a neutral court this season but 4-10 straight-up (SU) but 8-5-1 ATS as the away team.
Norfolk State Spartans 20-10 (9-5)
The 3rd-seed Spartans have lost three of their past four and have a tough matchup Thursday against Coppin State. Norfolk State split with Coppin State for a +24 point differential and is in for a fight when the two teams meet Thursday.
NCAA Men's Field goal percentage leaders entering today:
Ryan Kalkbrenner (@BluejayMBB): 70.6%
Josh Roberts (@JaspersMBB): 70.6%
Kris Bankston (@NSU_Bball): 69.3%
Kelton Talford (@Winthrop_MBB): 67.2%
Oso Ighodaro (@MarquetteMBB): 66.4%
Keegan Records (@ColgateMBB): 65.9%
— College Basketball Reference (@collegebb_ref) March 2, 2023
Norfolk State has the most efficient offense with the conference’s best free-throw rate and percentage. The Spartans commit to many silly fouls and, as a result, are 7th in opponent free-throw rate and fouls per game. Joe Bryant leads the team in scoring and assists but is coming off his worst scoring output of the season.
Phil’s Betting Nugget: The Spartans are 4-0 SU on neutral courts–Norfolks State is 1-2-1 ATS, and the Over is 3-1 on neutral courts.
Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks 17-12 (9-5)
Maryland Eastern Shore has won three of its last five, and they’ll meet No. 5 seed Morgan State Thursday night, which will be a battle. The Maryland instate rivals split their season series, but the Hawks have a +7-point winning margin.
Hawks Swarm Hornets in Regular Season Finale https://t.co/dL60Ckkd9t
— Hawk Men's Hoops 🏀 (@ESHawksHoops) March 3, 2023
The Hawks boast the most efficient defense in the MEAC and rank 1st in forced turnovers and steals. Maryland Eastern Shore struggles on the offensive glass and is last in the conference in blocked shot percentage. Kevon Boyles leads the Hawks in scoring and is coming off a big night in their away victory over Delaware State.
Phil’s Betting Nugget: Maryland Eastern Shore hasn’t played a neutral court game this season but was 7-9 SU as the away team, and the Under was 6-10.
Morgan State Bears 15-15 (7-7)
Morgan State has won three of its last four contests and meets arch-rival Maryland Eastern Shore Thursday night. The Bears have a -7 point differential over their two games with the Hawks this season and are in for a fight against Maryland Eastern Shore.
COLLIN NNAMENE ‼️ pic.twitter.com/GdwLpyvv7L
— Morgan State Men's Basketball (@MSUBearsMBB) March 3, 2023
The Bears rank last in offensive efficiency and two-point shooting percentage but are the second-best three-point shooting team in the MEAC, with the second-best three-point shooting defense in the conference. Isaiah Burke leads the team in scoring and averaged 16.5 points with a pair of assists against Maryland Eastern Shore this season.
Phil’s Betting Nugget: The Bears were 2-1 on neutral courts and 2-1 on both ATS and 2-1 Over the total.
Coppin State Eagles 9-22 (4-10)
The Eagles have won two straight and three of their last four entering their Wednesday night matchup with Norfolk State. Coppin State has beaten the Spartans this season but has a -24 point differential over their two games.
Congrats to @Samuel_Sessoms on becoming just the 13th player in the last 30 years to record 2,000 Points, 500 Rebounds, 500 Assists and 200 Steals in their career! @CoppinMBB @CollegeInsider @Mid_Madness @EdwardLeeSun @NCAAStats @MarchMadnessMBB pic.twitter.com/dlNAtHgpuj
— Coppin Sports (@coppinsports) March 3, 2023
Coppin State boasts the lowest turnover and 3rd-best free-throw percentage in the conference, but the Eagles struggle on the defensive end of the floor, ranking last in several defensive categories. Sam Sessoms leads the Eagles in scoring, assists, and steals–the senior guard has failed to reach his average in his last four games after erupting for 37 points against Howard.
Phil’s Betting Nugget: Coppin State has yet to play a neutral court game but was 5-16 as the away team–the Eagles were 7-13-1 ATS, and the Over was 13-7-1 as the away side.
Delaware State Hornets 6-23 (4-10)
The Hornets have dropped three straight and six of their last seven. Delaware State faces a North Carolina side Wednesday night they’ve lost twice to by a +12 point differential.
ROBINSON LEADS HORNETS TO SEASON SWEEP OF BULLDOGS IN MEAC THRILLER https://t.co/LxBMifXLBv
— Delaware St. Hornets (@DSUHornets) February 21, 2023
The Hornets allow the fewest offensive rebounds and rank 3rd in steals, but their offense is bottom three in nearly every scoring category and last in effective field goal percentage. Martaz Robinson leads Delaware State in points and rebounds–Brandon Stone has been in and out of the lineup but should play Wednesday.
Phil’s Betting Nugget: The Hornets were 0-1 this season on a neutral court–they didn’t cover the spread, and the game exceeded the total.
South Carolina State Bulldogs 5-25 (2-12)
South Carolina State has lost five straight and has a daunting task as they open the tournament Wednesday against top-seed Howard. They lost twice to the Bison this season by a combined score of 14 points.
🚨March is Here.
— SC State Mens Basketball (@ScstateMBB) March 1, 2023
The Bulldogs are pesky and are 2nd in the conference at forcing turnovers and 4th in the offensive rebound rate. South Carolina State is the worst free-throw shooting team in the conference and last in several defensive categories. Rakeim Gary leads the Bulldogs in scoring and assists and has exceeded his scoring average over his past two games.
Phil’s Betting Nugget: The Bulldogs haven’t played on a neutral court yet, but South Carolina State was 1-19 overall and 12-8 ATS as the away team.
Phil’s Best Bet For The MEAC Tournament
The MEAC tourney should be a fun event to watch, and the format is such that no team will have any scheduling advantages.
The Morgan State-Maryland Eastern Shore game might be the game of the tournament–the instate rivals split this season with Maryland Eastern Shore on the plus side of the differential.
Norfolk State is +260 to win the tournament and is essentially playing home games, as they do play some games at Norfolk Scope Arena. The Spartans are 4-0 on neutral courts and have a serious advantage with the crowd.
The Spartans have a possible semifinal matchup with North Carolina Central that could get tricky–the two split the season series. Still, Norfolk State was +5 in differential, and playing what amounts to a home game gives the Spartans an edge.
Howard defeated Norfolk State twice and wrecked the Spartans by 20 in the season finale, but Norfolk State battled them hard at home, and they won’t lose three times this season to the Bison.
Phil’s Best Bet: Norfolk State +260