- Norfolk State looks for back-to-back MEAC Tournament title and automatic NCAA Tournament bid
- The winner likely projects to starting in a First Four game
- See MEAC Tournament odds, seeds, bracket, and full tournament preview below
Norfolk State will be seeking its second straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament title, and with it the lone automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
They’ll have a chance to repeat in their own backyard, with it all getting underway March 9 from the Norfolk Scope Arena in Norfolk, Virginia.
Despite the Spartans winning the regular-season conference crown with a 12-2 mark, three games clear of their closest rivals, there should be some challengers to the tourney crown.
2022 MEAC Tournament Odds
|North Carolina Central||+1200|
|South Carolina State||+2500|
Odds from DraftKings on March 7.
The Spartans are an overwhelming -250 favorite, with the Howard Bison the closest competitor at +500 odds. The North Carolina Central Eagles, who won the tournament the three previous years prior to Norfolk State, are in third with +1200 odds.
MEAC Southern Conference Tournament Breakdown
Quarterfinal play begins Wednesday, March 9, with 8-seed Delaware State taking on top-seeded Norfolk State at 6pm ET, followed by #7 Coppin State battling 2nd-seeded Howard at 8pm ET.
Thursday has #5 South Carolina State taking on #4 Morgan State at 6pm ET, with Maryland Eastern Shore, the sixth seed, battling 7-seed North Carolina Central at 8pm ET.
The MEAC Tournament Bracket. pic.twitter.com/nhoZDpGKH6
— Rocco Miller (@RoccoMiller8) March 5, 2022
The Final Four at the MEAC will battle Friday, with the final tipping off Saturday at 1pm ET and will be seen live on ESPN2.
No school in this MEAC registers in the current NCAA Tournament odds. In our projected March Madness Bracket, Norfolk State wins the tournament, but has to play Southern for the right to the 16-seed in the West bracket.
Norfolk State Betting Outlook
The Spartans fell only twice in conference play, dropping a close 70-67 decision to NC Central (3rd in MEAC) on Jan 31, and a more decisive 85-74 defeat to the Morgan State Bears (4th in MEAC). They swept both ends of their season series with the Howard Bison, however.
NCCU guard @Jgetabuck24 (20pts/6reb) hits a tough layup to seal the game for the Eagles as @NCCU_MBB knocks off defending MEAC champions @NSU_BBALL 70-67! Joe Bryant Jr led the Spartans with 18 pts and Dana Tate scored 17 pts. What a thriller! pic.twitter.com/wYS8f4bMoD
— Spectacular Magazine Sports (@SpecMagSports) February 1, 2022
The Spartans were the only team in the conference to sport a double-digit point differential, with a nice balance on both sides of the ball.
They led the MEAC in scoring defense, surrendering 63.9 points per game, which ranked 37th in the NCAA, while scoring 75.4 points a night, which was third in the conference.
Offensively, they were led by MEAC Player of the Year Joe Bryant Jr, who was also tournament MVP a season ago. This year, he led the team averaging 16.8 points and 3.3 assists per game.
Kris Bankston punished the rim early and Norfolk State jumped out to a 49-17 halftime lead, crushing NC Centra, 75-46, to claim the @MEACSports regular season title. Bankston finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.@WTKR3 @NSUSpartans @NSU_BBALL pic.twitter.com/ZpjznxDM5j
— Marc Davis (@marcdavissports) March 1, 2022
JBJ posted double-digit scoring figures in 22 of the the Spartans’ 27 games this season. He was fourth in the nation from the stripe, draining 91.8% from the free throw line.
Kris Bankston, a 2nd-team MEAC selection, averaged 11.2 points and 6.9 rebounds this season.
Howard Betting Outlook
Despite dropping both games to the the Spartans this year, the Bison could rumble in the MEAC Tournament. They’re led by conference Rookie of the Year Elijah Hawkins, who posted 13 points, 5.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game in his freshman campaign.
He led the conference in both assists and steals this season.
— B/R Hoops (@brhoops) February 19, 2022
A pair of second-team stars round out this roster that led the conference in scoring this year at 77.1 points per game, good for 52nd in the nation.
Kyle Foster led the team in scoring at 16.1 points per game, as well as 4.0 assists, while shooting a crisp 46.2% from downtown. Steve Settle III, a 6-foot-10 big man in his sophomore year, added 13.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. Foster and Settle rank in the top-5 in scoring in the conference.
Others Teams Worth Considering
North Carolina Central lost three of their last four in the regular season, but the only other team in the conference with a winning record is worth considering. They have a win over Norfolk State, and one of their losses to Howard this year was by a point in overtime.
— Jamie Shaw (@JamieShaw5) February 20, 2022
They’re led by a pair of dynamo guards, including conference first-team star Justin Wright, who put up 13.1 points on 51.5% shooting. He’s flanked by second-teamer Eric Boone, who put up 9.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
The Eagles finished third in the conference in defensive scoring, allowing just 68.4 points per game.
MEAC Tournament Best Bet
It’s hard to register odds to make the Final Four, when it’s likely you’ll be in the First Four, playing for a chance to take on a no. 1 seed.
Norfolk State hasn’t lost at home this year, and while most signs point to that trend continuing this week, there’s so much more value in taking the Bison.
For that reason alone, we’ll go out on a limb and look for an upset.
The pick: Howard (+500)
All Conference Tournament Previews:
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- Big West Tournament Odds, Picks, and Preview
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- Horizon League Tournament Odds, Picks, and Bracket
- MAAC Tournament Preview, Odds, and Predictions
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- WCC Tournament Odds, Picks and Preview