Rushed Reactions: #16 North Carolina A&T 73, #16 Liberty 72

Posted by IRenko on March 19th, 2013

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I. Renko is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Dayton after Tuesday’s play-in game between North Carolina A&T and Liberty. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

Three Key Takeaways:

Game One of 67 Came Down to the Final Play (photo credit: NCAA)

Game One of 67 Came Down to the Final Play (photo credit: NCAA)

  1. The Madness Is Here – A thrilling finish to this game made for a thrilling start to the NCAA Tournament. Down 73-67 with under two minutes to play, Liberty scored five straight points, and NC A&T missed two front ends to give the Flames a chance at a last second winner. But point guard John Caleb Sanders’ drive to the basket resulted in a wild, off-target shot attempt that clinched the win — just barely — for the Aggies. March Madness has arrived.
  2. NC A&T’s Supporting Cast Found The Team’s Offense – Coming into the game, NC A&T was shooting 39.9 percent from the field and 29.9 percent from three-point range. Their adjusted offensive efficiency, per Ken Pomeroy, ranked them 317th in the nation. But on the strength of some unlikely contributions, the Aggies managed to shoot 52 percent from the field and 44 percent from three-point range. Adrian Powell, Lamont Middleton, and Jean Louisme led the Aggies in field goal attempts on the year, but it was a different threesome that led the attack tonight. Backup guard Jeremy Underwood (19 points), center Bruce Beckford (16 points), and forward Austin Witter (eight points) combined to shoot 17-of-22 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three-point range.
  3. Liberty Handled the Pressure and Hit Their Threes, But It Wasn’t Enough – Coming into the game, the Flames had two main offensive tasks: take care of the ball against the Aggies’ aggressive pressure, and take advantage of the Aggies’ ball-oriented defense to bombard them from the three-point line. Well, they managed both. While they were pressed into some inopportune turnovers, they coughed it up a total of 10 times, for a strong turnover rate of less than 16 percent. And they shot 10-of-23 from three-point range. But it wasn’t enough. In the end, the Flames’ 303rd ranked defense was their undoing.

Star of the Game:  Junior guard Jeremy Underwood ranks seventh on the Aggies in field goal attempts, but he took center stage tonight. Coming off the bench to replace an ineffective Jean Louisme, Underwood scored 19 points on a perfect 6-of-6 field goal shooting and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. After giving the Aggies a big boost with two big first-half threes, his effective dribble penetration and composure in the second half were the key to the Aggies’ offense. Underwood also had what may have been the game’s most impressive and most important play. With under 5:30 to play in the second half, and Liberty within four points, Underwood converted a conventional three-point play on an off-balance jump shot to push the Aggies’ lead to 68-61.

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NCAA Game Analysis: First Four – Tuesday Night

Posted by BHayes on March 19th, 2013

The First Round/Opening Round/Play-In Games/Mild Annoyance of the NCAA Tournament begins tonight, getting under way at 6:40 PM tonight on truTV (go ahead, try to remember where that channel is again). From 68 to 16 in the next six days… let’s analyze the first two games this evening.

#16 North Carolina A&T vs. #16 Liberty — Midwest Region First Round (at Dayton, OH) — 6:40 pm ET on truTV.

John Caleb Sanders Continuing His Hot-Shooting Ways Would Be A Huge Boost For The Flames In Dayton

John Caleb Sanders Continuing His Hot-Shooting Ways Would Be A Huge Boost For The Flames In Dayton

Nothing says NCAA Tournament like a match-up between North Carolina A&T and Liberty now, does it? Like it or not, the First Four is the official tip-off for the Big Dance, and this year’s opening act pits the tournament champions from the MEAC against one of the unlikeliest Big Dance participants ever –- the 15-20 Liberty Flames. The Big South Champs aren’t the only party crashers here, however.  Having entered the MEAC tournament under .500 and as the #7 seed, A&T was nearly as long a shot to make this field. The Aggies are easily the worst offensive team in this field of 68, choosing instead (a generous explanation) to hang their hat on the defensive end, where they rank 81st nationally in defensive efficiency. Springy senior Austin Witter is the key to the stingy defense, having blocked 11.8% of opponents two-point field goal attempts, the 16th highest rate in the country. Unfortunately for he and the Aggies, Liberty does most of their offensive work from beyond the arc and at the line. With guards John Caleb SandersDavon Marshall and Tavares Speaks all averaging at least 13.0 PPG, Liberty has proven to be a capable offensive unit, especially of late. The same praise cannot be afforded their defense, however, as LIU-Brooklyn is the only team in the field with a worse defensive efficiency rating than the Flames. So yes, it will be a titanic battle between Liberty’s 303d ranked defense and NC A&T’s 317th ranked offense. Ultimately though, I think the difference-making happens when Liberty has the ball. A&T’s tough defense notwithstanding, we like the Flames to continue their hot shooting and extend a postseason life that they could have never expected to have.

The RTC Certified PickLiberty

 #11 Middle Tennessee vs. #11 Saint Mary’s — Midwest Region First Round (at Dayton, OH) — 9:10 pm ET on truTV.

If Middle Tennessee Has Anything To Say About It, Matthew Dellavedova Will Be Donning The Saint Mary's Jersey For A Final Time Tuesday Night

If Middle Tennessee Has Anything To Say About It, Matthew Dellavedova Will Be Donning The Saint Mary’s Jersey For A Final Time Tuesday Night

The nightcap on Tuesday features two of the final teams to make the NCAA Tournament field, with Middle Tennessee and Saint Mary’s facing off for the chance to meet Memphis on Thursday in Auburn Hills. The Gaels are no strangers to the big stage, as Matthew Dellavedova and company are making their third appearance in the last four years. Saint Mary’s shoots the ball both well and often from deep. The Gaels convert on 37% of their tries from distance, with those points accounting for nearly a third of their total points scored this season. Dellavedova is the leading scorer and unquestioned leader of this bunch, but Stephen Holt and Beau Levesque are both double-figure scorers capable of carrying the offensive load for a night. Middle Tennessee is not a bad offensive team in its own right (73rd nationally in offensive efficiency), but Kermit Davis has concocted a decidedly different recipe for success. Do not be surprised if you see 11 different Blue Raiders touch the floor on Tuesday night, and among that group are seven players who average at least six points a contest, with just one (Marcos Knight at 12.5 PPG) in double-figures. The Middle Tennessee depth is clearly impressive, and it has also helped the Blue Raiders on the defensive end. Middle Tennessee is 20th nationally in defensive efficiency, also ranking in the top-25 in a slew of important defensive categories. The most relevant of those metrics for its match-up with the Gaels is three-point percentage defense, where MTSU ranks 14th nationally, allowing just 29.5% shooting from behind the arc. It’s a particularly damning piece of evidence for believers in the Gaels, and the Middle Tennessee statistical profile would suggest that the Blue Raiders have more than just a fighting chance in this one. Call me a sucker for the sentimental story, but despite the aforementioned statistical evidence, I can’t pick against Saint Mary’s here. A brilliant career lives to see another day, as Dellavedova is the difference in what could be a thriller in Dayton.

The RTC Certified Pick:  Saint Mary’s

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Bracket Prep: Albany, Memphis, Southern, North Carolina A&T, Kansas & New Mexico

Posted by BHayes on March 17th, 2013

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Championship Week reached a crescendo on the eve of Selection Sunday, as thirteen automatic bids were handed out. As each of the 31 automatic qualifiers plays their way into the Dance over the next week, we’ll take some time to give you an analytical snapshot of each team that you can refer back to when you’re picking your brackets this week.

Albany

How About A Court Storming On An Opponent's Home Floor? Completely Legal, Especially If A Trip To The Big Dance Is On The Line.  Congratulations Albany.

How About A Court Storming On An Opponent’s Home Floor? Completely Legal, Especially If A Trip To The Big Dance Is On The Line. Congratulations Albany.

  • America East Champion (24-10, 12-7)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #143/#152/#172
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +2.0
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #16

 Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for Albany, but Saturday’s ticket-punching win at Vermont means the ride will roll on to the Big Dance. The America East champs put together an impressive 11-3 non-conference campaign that included a win at Washington, but conference play proved trying for Will Brown’s team, as a 9-7 finish left them as the fourth seed in the America East tournament. Albany lived the familiar March mantra “survive and advance” to the fullest this week, winning three games by a total of eight points to earn the bid.
  2. In a fashion quite typical for these Great Danes, Albany won games this week in which they scored 50, 61 and 53 points, respectively – not exactly “grab some popcorn and take in the show” territory here. The tempo is predictably slow (279th nationally), and with national ranks of 170th offensively and 144th defensively, Albany is very much middle of the road on both ends of the floor. Where the Great Danes do excel is on the glass. They are an above average offensive rebounding team and rank 40th nationally in collecting caroms on the defensive end, aided in part by a relatively big lineup, especially for the America East.
  3. The Albany offensive blueprint is not especially refined, but they rely heavily on a small senior duo of three-point shooters. 6’0” Mike Black leads the Danes in scoring at 15 a contest and towers over his backcourt mate, 5’10” Jacob Iati, who chips in 12.2 PPG. The two have combined to make 139 threes this season, and they would be well served to keep chucking come next week, because unless Albany gets slotted for the First Four in Dayton, it will take a hot shooting night and then some (and then some more, and some more…) to keep the Danes surviving and advancing.

Memphis

Rulers Of Conference USA For The Final Time, Memphis Is Dancing Again

Rulers Of Conference USA For The Final Time, Memphis Is Dancing Again

  • Conference USA Champion (30-4, 19-0)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #15/#38/#27
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +12.0
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #7-#9

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RTC Conference Primers: # 31 – MEAC

Posted by jstevrtc on October 3rd, 2011

For our complete list of 2011-12 conference primers working backward from #31 to #1, click here.   

Readers’ Take I

Top Storylines

  • Turmoil at Bethune-Cookman.  Bethune-Cookman is the defending regular season champion, but can they concentrate on basketball? Since least season, the school has fired Clifford Reed, its head coach for the previous nine years, because of “insubordination and failure to cooperate” during an investigation of the basketball program. His son, C. J., was last year’s conference Player of the Year and the league’s top scorer, but was named (not charged) in a now-closed sexual assault case and has left the college. The elder Reed is suing the school for wrongful termination. Forget that the Wildcats will be under new leadership and have to place replace C.J.’s scoring; will they be able to concentrate on hoops with this stuff hanging over the program all year?
  • NCCU Wild Card.  We ask the above poll question about North Carolina Central because even though they’ve been readmitted to the MEAC, the Eagles welcome three transfers from Power Six conferences (on whom more in a bit). In the few pre-season writeups we’ve seen so far, NCCU has been predicted anywhere from first to 12th. They’re by far the biggest wild card in this conference this season.
  • MEAC Parity.  From 2000 to 2009, the MEAC post-season tournament saw only two schools claim more than one title (Hampton and South Carolina State). Hampton took the conference tournament crown last year and won the honor of a 16-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Morgan State took the two before that, and Coppin State won in 2008. Those three schools have separated themselves in recent years as the top programs in this league. Which one will rise up this year, or can another squad challenge that trio?

Predicted Order of Finish

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O26 Primers: Atlantic 10, MAC and MEAC Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 8th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

With the completion of several conference tournaments over the weekend, the field of 68 is slowly beginning to take shape, but there is still much to be determined. The kicking off of the Atlantic 10, MAC and MEAC conference tournaments later today will weed out even more teams as we approach Selection Sunday. The Atlantic 10 is definitely a multi-bid league—it is just a matter if two or three teams make the field—while the other two conferences will only have one representative in this Tournament.

Atlantic 10

The Favorite: There was little doubt heading into the season that Xavier would be a formidable team in the Atlantic 10 and one that could do some damage throughout the season. They advanced to the Sweet 16 last year and returned do-it-all player in Tu Holloway, but after a rollercoaster non-conference performance that saw the Musketeers go 8-5 questions were raised. All these questions were answered and more as they went 15-1 in the A10. Although Temple and Richmond are right on their heels, Xavier is the team to beat heading into the tournament.

Dark Horse: Richmond concluded their season with four straight wins—all coming by double digits—and Chris Mooney has the Spiders playing some great ball. The dynamic and versatile Justin Harper is capable of taking over a game, and Kevin Anderson is a steady point guard that has the scoring ability of a shooting guard. Currently, Richmond is on the outside looking in of the NCAA Tournament and a strong run in the A10 tournament will be needed to earn an invitation to the Dance.

Who’s Hot: Aside from a fluke four point loss to Charlotte in the middle of their A10 slate, Xavier went perfect in the conference and has only two losses in 2011.

Player to Watch: If there was a player in the A10 capable of putting a team on his back and carrying them to a few wins in the tournament, it is St. Bonaventure’s Andrew Nicholson. The senior from Ontario has scored more than 30 points on four occasions this year and hit buzzer beaters in consecutive games against Buffalo and St. John’s. Nicholson is a scorer and is clutch: watch out for him.

First-Round UpsetSt. Joseph’s over George Washington. It took a while for one of the youngest teams in the nation to become acclimated to the college game, but St. Joseph’s youngsters are starting to come around. The Hawks began their A10 schedule with an 0-8 record, but went 4-4 the rest of the way.

How’d They Fare? The Atlantic 10 had a very successful regular season as they placed three teams in the Tournament, but two of them struggled and were unable to get out of the first round. Temple, the highest seed of the three at #5, lost to Cornell in the first round. #7 Richmond struggled to keep up with Omar Samhan and St. Mary’s losing 80-71. The saving grace was #6 Xavier who defeated Minnesota and then upset Pittsburgh in the second round. The Musketeers were very close to defeating Kansas State and advancing to the Elite Eight, but fell 101-96 in double overtime.

Interesting Fact: The A10 has been a multi-bid conference ever since 2005, and that looks to continue this year with Xavier and Temple being safe bets to earn a bid to the Tournament regardless of what happens in the conference tournament.

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Around The Blogosphere: And So It Begins. . .

Posted by nvr1983 on November 15th, 2010

Even though the season technically started earlier on November 8th we all know that Friday night was the real start of the college basketball season and the Internet is buzzing about weekend’s action. We scoured the Internet to find the best local voices to give you an inside look at what happened in the night’s biggest games. If you’re confused by the rankings, that is because they are from the official RTC Top 25.  If you are interested in participating in this feature, e-mail us at rushthecourt@gmail.com.

Friday Night

  • #2 Michigan State 96, Eastern Michigan 66: “Season openers generally aren’t going to be works of tremendous beauty, so they might as well be entertaining. And this one was (other than the constant stream of guys going to the free throw line, I guess). This team promises to be as entertaining as any Tom Izzo has coached–and that’s saying something. Becoming a truly efficient operation will take a little longer.” (The Only Colors)
  • #3 Ohio State 102, North Carolina A&T 61: “Hype. Rarely do teams, players and coaches ever live up to it. In No. 4 Ohio State’s season opener, the freshman class showed their addition to four returning starters is the perfect recipe to end a 51-year national championship drought in Columbus and, in the process, live up to their enormous hype.” (Eleven Warriors)
  • #6 Villanova 68, Bucknell 52: “Villanova fans who hoped for an early blowout were surely disappointed by some poor shooting and sloppy play in the early going.  Both teams played to a draw until Villanova took the lead for good with 12:38 remaining in the first half.  From that point, their lead would grow to as many as 16 points before the Bison clawed their way back to cut it to 5 points halfway through the second half when Maalik Wayns and Corey Fisher took control.” (VU Hoops)
  • #7 Kansas 113, Longwood 75: “Kansas won it’s 60th game in a row in Allen Fieldhouse, and while it was just Longwood, there was a healthy dose of positives to take from the game. First, some roster things to clear up: Josh Selby sat again, and Self said there was no new news on that front. Elijah Johnson also had the night off in street clothes. Self said that he would address the situation after the game, but some shots of him on the bench showed him smiling and laughing, so it can’t be too serious. And Royce Woolridge played, so he is obviously not redshirting.” (Rock Chalk Talk)
  • #11 Syracuse 68, Northern Iowa 46: “All in all, it ended up looking a lot more solid at the end than it did in the beginning. The good news is, its early and while Northern Iowa isn’t as good as they were last year, they’re a decent opponent. They’ll get better and this win will look good in a few months. The freshmen can play (when they’re not fouling willy-nilly). The bench is deep. Kris Joseph has that takeover mentality we were hoping for. Rick Jackson looks dependable.  All we need to do is work out what’s going on at the guard spots and figure out the pecking order and we’ll be in good shape.” (Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
  • #14 Kentucky 88, East Tennessee State 55: “I must say that it is hard to judge teams when they shoot the ball as well as UK did. The old axiom is that good shooting makes up for a bunch of mistakes, and that proved to be the case more often than not tonight. It isn’t that the Wildcats played poorly — to the contrary, as a team they played very well, arguably their best game of the season so far. But that does not mean that they played flawlessly.” (A Sea of Blue)

    Terrence Jones: 1st freshman to debut with a double-double since Jules Camara (Credit: Kentucky.com / M. Cornelison)

  • #15 Gonzaga 117, Southern 72: “The man who paced the Zags was without a doubt Steven Gray.  The senior leader was simply phenomenal tonight.  His outside shot resembled his freshman season and he would have easily secured a triple-double if he could have finished out the game.  Unofficially, Gray finished with 25 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds, and three steals.  That’s about as good as it gets in the college game.  Gray has always been a guy that can do everything and tonight was a prime example.” (The Slipper Still Fits)
  • #18 Georgetown 62, Old Dominion 59: “Well that wasn’t fun at all.  Georgetown survived one of the ugliest basketball games since James Naismith invented it in 1891.  Down by eight with less than 10 minutes to go, it looked like Georgetown’s offense wouldn’t score another point.  Then, in a flash, Chris Wright and Austin Freeman score 13 points on four shots, and all was forgiven.” (Casual Hoya)
  • #24 Temple 62, Seton Hall 56: “Coach Fran Dunphy’s Owls got the 2010 college basketball season off on the right foot after defeating Seton Hall on Friday night. The Owls were able to hold off a late surge by the Pirates to earn their first win of what hopes to be a very long season. Temple struggled a bit in the first half of play, but eventually managed to build up a 10-point lead over Seton Hall. The momentum carried into the second half and was able to hold on through the final buzzer.” (The Owl’s Nest)

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RTC Conference Primers: #30 – MEAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2010

RTC is still seeking a MEAC correspondent.  If you are interested in covering this league, email us for further information at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Morgan State (13-3)
  2. South Carolina State (12-4)
  3. Norfolk State (10-6)
  4. Delaware State (9-7)
  5. Bethune-Cookman (9-7)
  6. Maryland-Eastern Shore (8-8)
  7. Hampton (8-8)
  8. Howard (7-9)
  9. North Carolina A&T (6-10)
  10. Coppin State (4-12)
  11. Florida A&M (2-14)
  12. Savannah State (*provisional member — ineligible for postseason and league awards)
  13. North Carolina Central (*provisional member – ineligible for postseason and league awards)

All-Conference Team

  • CJ Reed (G) — Bethune-Cookman
  • Hillary Haley (G) – Maryland-Eastern Shore
  • DeWayne Jackson (F) — Morgan State
  • Kyle O’Quinn (F) – Norfolk State
  • Kevin Thompson (F) — Morgan State

6th Man

  • Darnell Porter (G) — South Carolina State

Impact Newcomer

  • Dominique Sutton (F) — North Carolina Central.  NCCU isn’t yet playing a complete MEAC schedule nor is it eligible for postseason play this year, but the Eagle program is already making noise on the recruiting trail with the announcement of high-major transfer Sutton returning to Durham to suit up for his hometown team.  As of this writing, the 6’5 junior forward who averaged 7.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG as a full-time starter last season for Kansas State was practicing with the team and awaiting an NCAA decision on whether he can play this season.  He moved back east to be closer to his girlfriend and two daughters in Durham, and the wing player who terrorizes the glass on the offensive end (especially given his size) will automatically become one of the best players in the MEAC as soon as he is eligible.

Bozeman is Building Quite the Program in Baltimore

What You Need To Know

  • All Morgan, All the Time. Todd Bozeman has built a powerhouse in Baltimore to the tune of three straight regular season titles, two straight NCAA bids, and a 46-6 record against MEAC teams the last three seasons.  But like all consistently great programs, Morgan doesn’t re-build anymore as much as re-load.  From Jamar Smith to Marquis Kately to Reggie Holmes to the next generation (Thompson and Jackson), Bozeman continually has high-mid major talent playing for him.  The Bears’ strategy is clear — play a tough non-conference schedule to build up their RPI (beating DePaul, Maryland and Arkansas in recent years), dominate the MEAC, and get back to the NCAA Tournament.  Morgan State earned #15 seeds the last two seasons, but they haven’t yet been matched up against the right team in order to pull off the upset — #2 seeds Oklahoma (2009) and West Virginia (2010) were simply too powerful inside for them to handle.  Could it come this season?

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #31: MEAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 6th, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the MEAC and SWAC conferences.  Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Morgan State (22-9)
  2. North Carolina A&T (17-14)
  3. South Carolina State (16-12)
  4. Coppin State (14-13)
  5. Bethune-Cookman (14-16)
  6. Hampton (12-18)
  7. Delaware State (10-17)
  8. Norfolk State (9-19)
  9. Florida A&M (9-16)
  10. Howard (4-23)
  11. Winston-Salem State (4-26)
  12. UMES (3-27)

All-Conference Team:

  • Tavarus Alston (G) – North Carolina A&T – Should lead the MEAC in assists this season, and could be a scoring threat as well.
  • Reggie Holmes (G) – Morgan State – 3rd leading scorer and leading 3pt shooter in the MEAC in 08 will expand his role in 09.
  • Jason Flagler (F) – South Carolina State – Dynamic scorer is SC State’s best chance at post-season success.
  • Neal Pitt (F) – UMES– Tenacious rebounder and defensive force under the basket will lead conference in glass cleaning for second straight season.
  • Kevin Thompson (C) – Morgan State – Could emerge as a secondary scoring option in the low post, and will fill role as interior stopper.
  • Alexander Starling (6th Man, F) – Bethune-Cookman –Versatile forward is Bethune-Cookman’s primary scoring option.

MEAC_logo

What You Need to Know.  The MEAC is a mid-major conference that, while among the lowest rated in RPI, is among the more recognized brands in college basketball outside of power conference competition. The MEAC champion has won three first-round tournament games in the last 20 years, and has produced tough out of conference wins over quality competition in the last three years. (Morgan State defeating Maryland, Hampton defeating George Mason in 2008)

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Checking in on the… MEAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 13th, 2008

JC at HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC Conferences.

And now its time for America’s favorite Mid-Major soap opera, The MEAC and the Rest of Us. The MEAC is a major player in college basketball, yet its member schools consistently play dwarf to the Cinderella dreams of  conferences like the Atlantic 10 and the Big South.

So now its time for the little guys to find their dancing shoes.

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Checking in on the… MEAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

JC of HBCUSportsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the SWAC and MEAC Conferences.

Unlike its black college counterpart, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference knows how to effectively manage its early season maulings. The conference is a combined 15-36 so far, not bad given early season opponents have included Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky and Oklahoma. The MEAC is quickly emerging as one of the mid-major conferences to watch. They may not be primed to run upset city, but they are quickly preparing to take up residence.

THIS WEEK

Hampton University and Morgan State University are the cream of the crop in the MEAC. The two teams have wins over George Mason University and Marshall University, and will begin a stretch of competition against comparable mid-major teams. You know, the Mount Saint Marys and Akron Zips of the world.

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Conference Primers: #30 – MEAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 2nd, 2007

Season Preview Banner 3

Predicted Order of Finish.

  1. North Carolina A&T (20-10) (15-3)
  2. Morgan St. (15-12) (13-5)
  3. Coppin St. (14-15) (12-6)
  4. Hampton (13-15) (10-8)
  5. Delaware St. (12-16) (10-8)
  6. Norfolk St. (14-15) (10-8)
  7. Bethune-Cookman (15-15) (8-10)
  8. Florida A&M (13-16) (8-10)
  9. South Carolina St. (9-18) (7-11)
  10. Howard (7-21) (6-12)
  11. Maryland – Eastern Shore (6-24) (6-12)
  12. Winston-Salem St. (5-23) (3-15)

MEAC Logo

WYN2K. As bad as the SWAC is as a conference, the MEAC is only marginally better. But make no mistake – it IS better. Computer rankings for the last three years reflect that the MEAC lords over the SWAC, as it has won over twice as many OOC contests (70-268; .261) than its sister conference over the last three years. Yet, the MEAC champion is still a play-in game stalwart, finding itself in three of the last four PiGs and entering the NCAAs as a #16 seed each of the last five years. Exhibiting the same problem with OOC “guarantee games” as the SWAC, only Florida A&M and Delaware St. had overall winning records last year. Now, if the league could only keep its coaches out of trouble… Morgan St.’s Todd Bozeman (yes, that Todd Bozeman), SC State’s Jamal Brown and FAMU’s Mike Gillespie have all experienced legal trouble in the last year (Brown and Gillespie were fired).

Predicted Champion. North Carolina A&T (#16 Seed NCAA). Aggie Pride is back, as former Louisville champion (1980) and current A&T head coach Jerry Eaves continues to rebuild a program that was an NCAA regular in the 80s/early 90s (ten trips from 1982-95). Lightning-quick PG Steven Rush leads the charge for the 27th quickest tempo in the nation, and it doesn’t hurt that he has F Jason Willis and a cast of five other senior regulars from a team that made a late push in the MEAC last season.

Others Considered. Todd Bozeman’s Morgan St. squad intrigues us because his team improved leaps and bounds over 2006 based largely on the attitude shift he instilled into the program. Plus, he’s bringing the best recruiting class into the league this year. Hampton is also a team to watch because of Rashad West, a 6’1 playmaker who is likely the best player in the league. Coppin St. returns all five starters from an underachieving squad last year.

Games to Watch. Similar to the SWAC, there’s only one game that will matter in the MEAC.

  • MEAC Championship Game (03.15.08).

RPI Booster Games. The MEAC plays 43 games against BCS conference opponents this year, and all but one is on the road. The key point here is that the home game is definitely winnable, as are a couple of other road games.

  • Colorado @ Florida A&M (11.15.07)
  • Hampton @ Virginia (12.19.07)
  • NC A&T @ Miami (FL) (12.23.07)

Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids. Zero. See SWAC.

Neat-o Stat. Don’t come to this league if you’re seeking beautiful offense. Nine of its eleven teams last year rated in the bottom 20% of teams nationally for offensive efficiency, and three of its teams (UMES, Howard, Norfolk St.) earned the ignoble distinction of being the least efficient defensive teams in the nation.

65-Team Era. Counting PiGs, the MEAC is 3-22 overall, with two trips to the second round – Hampton (#15) over Iowa St. (#2) in 2002, and Coppin St. (#15) over South Carolina (#2) in 1997. The MEAC is responsible for two of the only four #15 over #2 seed wins in history.

Final Thought. At least the MEAC isn’t the SWAC, right?

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