By: Aaron Carter
First off, I will tell you what the MEAC stands for because if you are reading this you probably want to know more information about this mid-major conference. MEAC stands for Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and usually only gets one team into the round of 64 per year (via automatic bid), and that team usually gets bounced in the first round (Hampton lost as a 16 seed this past year to Virginia 45-81). However, the MEAC is home to the infamous Norfolk St. Spartans who upset Missouri back in 2012 when Mizzou was a #2 seed in the tournament. March Madness am I right? Anyways, hopefully by the end of this you will at least care a little about the MEAC, and maybe, just maybe, watch a few of the televised games this year.
The MEAC is not only home to “cinderellas,” but it also happens to be the home of the NCAA’s reigning scoring champion, James Daniel III. Daniel, a senior at Howard University, averaged 27.1 points per game last season, which was good for first place just above first-round draft pick Buddy Hield. Daniel should be just as explosive this season as the MEAC didn’t get much tougher and has even more experience under his belt than he did last year. Daniel was a driving threat behind the Bison’s offensive attack as he also led the NCAA in free throw makes with 280. He consistently scored in high amounts as Daniel had nine games where he dropped 30 points or more. Behind Daniel, and fellow senior guard James Miller, Howard should be the favorites in the conference; you will be able to check out Howard on Nov. 11 when they take on Michigan in its season opener.
Another team that should be interesting to watch this year should be the South Carolina St. Bulldogs. SCSU made it all the way to the MEAC championship last year before losing to Hampton, and it is returning many of players from last year’s team. The team’s leading scorer, senior guard Eric Eaves who averaged 17.6 points per game, will continue to the lead the Bulldogs on the offensive end, and their starting post player junior Tashombe Riley will look to be a force on the boards (second in rebounds last year with 5.1/game) and on defense. SCSU will also play a solid non-conference schedule, just like Howard, which should prepare them for the easier conference schedule at the end of the year. SCSU matches up with teams such as: Wichita St., South Carolina, #19 Syracuse, #17 Saint Mary’s, Miami and Texas A&M. If Eaves, Riley, and the Bulldog’s top three-point shooter Ed Stephens can play big it is a possibility the Bulldogs can maybe pull an upset in one of these competitions. Even if the Bulldogs are unable to beat any of these major teams in the non-conference schedule, they should be a force once conference play rolls around.
The last team that could make some noise is the reigning champs, the Hampton Pirates. Hampton is going to have some new blood in the starting lineup this year, however, as its top 3 scorers from last year: Reginald Johnson Jr. (18.1 ppg), Quinton Chievous (17 ppg) and Brian Darden (13 ppg) all graduated this past year. Hampton will need excellent play from senior guard Lawrence Cooks and junior forward Charles Wilson-Fisher if they want to compete with Howard and SCSU.
So, in a nutshell, the MEAC is not very deep with only about three teams that could realistically contend for a conference title, but it isn’t the most boring conference in college basketball. At least take a look at Daniel’s scoring ability because he might be able to squeak his way onto a D-League team next summer.
(Featured Image: Chris B./Flickr)