We’re in the midst of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the continuing action by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.
Dates: March 10-14
Site: Norfolk Scope (Norfolk, VA)
What to expect: Despite losing several key players from last year’s 28-6 unit, North Carolina Central reloaded with talented transfers and dominated the MEAC for the second straight season. Led by Lamar transplant Nimrod Hilliard (11.6 PPG, 6.4 APG) and big man Jordan Parks (14.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG), the Eagles have counterbalanced a slightly less efficient offensive attack with an even more dominant defense, holding opponents to a paltry 41.3 percent effective field goal percentage (third-best nationally) and just 54.7 points per game. The most credible challengers in Norfolk this week will be Norfolk State, Delaware State and Maryland-Eastern Shore – led by Mike Myers, who draws an incredible 9.1 fouls per 40 minutes of action. The Spartans, playing in their home town, probably have the best shot at ending North Carolina Central’s two-year run.
Favorite: North Carolina Central. The Eagles are the most experienced team in the country (per KenPom) and have not lost a MEAC contest since January 11, 2014. Only three conference opponents have scored more than a point per possession against their defense this season. LeVelle Moton’s crew is the clear favorite in Norfolk.