MEAC Preview: Morgan State, Todd Bozeman to return to the dance?

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Beginning in September and running up through November 10th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are previewing the MEAC.

Over the course of the last five years, Levelle Moton has built North Carolina-Central into the flagship program of the MEAC.

The Eagles have won the league’s regular season title in four of the last five years and reached the NCAA tournament twice during that stretch, including last season. And who knows, maybe Moton will be able to work his magic with this group again, but considering that all five starters and seven of the eight players from NC-Central’s rotation last season graduated this summer, it’s hard to imagine the Eagles repeating as league champs.

On paper, the favorite this year looks to be Morgan State. The Bears not only return the best 1-2 punch in the conference, but that duo – wing Tiwian Kendley and big man Philip Carr – also happen to be the only two returning first-team all-conference players. With just a single rotation player out the door due to graduation, Todd Bozeman has a team that should make a run at returning to the NCAA tournament.

Losing Jonathan Wade is a major blow for Norfolk State, who finished a game off of the league title pace a season ago, but Zaynah Robinson is a sparkplug at the point and should finish this season as a first-team all-league player, if not the best lead guard in the conference.

Hampton will be in the mix as well. They finished tied for third in the league last season despite a roster that was mostly freshmen and sophomores. Sophomore guard Jermaine Marrow is one of the best young talents in the MEAC. Savannah State lost Troyce Manassa but returned everyone else, including Dexter McClanahan.

MORE: 2017-18 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

PRESEASON MEAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tiwian Kendley, Morgan State

Kendley was the leading scorer in the MEAC last season, and that likely won’t change this season. What will change, however, is that Kendley won’t be playing on a team that finished third in the conference, as the Bears are projected to win the league.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-MEAC TEAM

  • Zaynah Robinson, Norfolk State: The Spartans lost their leading scorer from a year ago, so expect Robinson’s numbers to see a boost.
  • Jermaine Marrow, Hampton: Marrow will be the guy that pushes Robinson for the title of best leadu guard in the MEAC.
  • Dexter McClanahan, Savannah State: McClanahan’s returns is the biggest reason that SSU will be relevant in the league race.
  • Philip Carr, Morgan State: He was the best big man in the conference last season. The only reason he isn’t the best returning player in the league is because Kendley is back as well.

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Morgan State
2. Hampton
3. Norfolk State
4. Savannah State
5. NC-Central
6. Maryland-Eastern Shore
7. Bethune-Cookman
8. Delaware State
9. South Carolina State
10. Florida A&M
11. Howard
12. North Carolina A&T