When the MEAC tournament began the biggest question seemed to be whether or not the league’s two best teams, defending champion Norfolk State (16-0 MEAC record) and North Carolina Central (15-1) would meet for the right to go to the NCAA tournament.
But in a conference season highlighted by the fact that the two best teams in the MEAC didn’t play during the regular season (yes, Norfolk State and NCCU really didn’t play during the regular season), of course chaos rules at the conference tournament.
Morgan State’s 64-61 overtime victory over Savannah State (19-14) on Thursday night means that the top four seeds have all been eliminated from the MEAC tournament, which likely guarantees that the winner will play its first NCAA tournament game in Dayton.
Justin Black led four Bears (16-14) in double figures with 20 points, and despite 18 turnovers and shooting 5-of-22 from beyond the arc Todd Bozeman’s team is now two wins away from the NCAA tournament. Next up for Morgan State: eight-seed Bethune-Cookman, who knocked off Norfolk State in overtime on Wednesday.
The other semifinal matches six-seed Delaware State, which beat Hampton 63-60 despite the Pirates grabbing 17 offensive rebounds, and seven-seed North Carolina A&T. The Aggies provided the lone “blowout” of the quarterfinals, as they beat North Carolina Central 55-42 on Wednesday.
The MEAC tournament, through no fault of its own, has simply provided more evidence to the argument that a 16-seed isn’t going to beat a 1-seed for the first time in NCAA tournament history this season. And frankly that was a preposterous argument to begin with, regardless of how much parity there’s been in college basketball.
But a conference tournament in which the top four seeds are all eliminated in the quarterfinals? That’s the epitome of March Madness. And given the bizarre scheduling that resulted in the top two seeds not playing during the regular season, maybe this is an appropriate finish to the 2012-13 season in the MEAC.
Photo credit: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.