The Hampton Pirates were the surprise winners of last year's MEAC Tournament, finishing the regular season with a losing record but winning four straight games to claim the conference's automatic bid. They even won their First Four game to reach the Round of 64 proper and record their first tournament win since 2001.
This time, Hampton enters the postseason as the favorites after going 13-3 in conference play. The MEAC is one of the nation's weakest conferences this year, with eight of 13 teams ranked 300th or lower in KenPom. The Pirates had little trouble taking care of the league's lower-level teams and look set to punch their ticket back to the big dance.
However, the MEAC isn't a total one-team league this year. Second-seeded Norfolk State thumped Hampton by 20 points in the regular season finale, and the tournament takes place in its backyard at the Norfolk Scope. They'll be the biggest obstacle to Hampton this week. Meanwhile, the No. 3 seed (South Carolina State) also managed to beat the Pirates.
The MEAC tournament may have an obvious favorite or two, but as we see time and again in March, nothing should be taken for granted.
The MEAC has 13 members, but Florida A&M is sitting out the postseason with APR violations. So it's a standard 12-team tournament, with the top four teams getting byes into the quarterfinal round. As the top two seeds, Hampton and Norfolk State get an additional advantage with a day of rest if they reach the semifinals.
2. Norfolk State
3. South Carolina State
5. Savannah State
6. North Carolina A&T
7. North Carolina Central
8. Maryland Eastern Shore
9. Morgan State
11. Coppin State
12. Delaware State
Check out the MEAC's complete bracket here.
Schedule and results (all times Eastern)
Monday, March 7 (first round)
Game 1: No. 5 Savannah State 63, No. 12 Delaware State 58
Game 2: No. 11 Coppin State 98, No. 6 North Carolina A&T 91
Tuesday, March 8 (first round)
Game 3: No. 9 Morgan State 65, No. 8 Maryland Eastern Shore 58
Game 4: No. 7 North Carolina Central 68, No. 10 Howard 66
Wednesday, March 9 (quarterfinals)
Game 5: No. 1 Hampton 83, No. 9 Morgan State 81
Game 6: No. 2 Norfolk State 66, No. 7 North Carolina Central 47
Thursday, March 10 (quarterfinals)
Game 7: No. 3 South Carolina State 90, No. 11 Coppin State 80
Game 8: No. 5 Savannah State 57, No. 4 Bethune-Cookman 50
Friday, March 11 (semifinals)
Game 9: No. 1 Hampton 89, No. 5 Savannah State 55
Game 10: No. 3 South Carolina State 67, No. 2 Norfolk State 65
Saturday, March 12 (championship)
Game 11: No. 1 Hampton 81, No. 3 South Carolina State 69
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