CALGARY, Alta. — Another week has quickly come and gone, which means opening day for the 2017-18 season is just over three months away.
November 10th cannot come soon enough, as we feel that we have waited long enough for college basketball to come back into our lives. Several teams are embarking on international exhibition tours, which gives us a small sample of college basketball in early August.
This past week, we had a bit more action in and around the MEAC. We saw our first full schedule released from the conference for the 2017-18 season, which provided some more insight into the MEAC pairings for other teams in the conference.
One team picked up a late commitment from a class of 2017 point guard to bolster their back court rotation, and we took a Twitter question and gave our own take on it.
Here’s what you may have missed from the last seven days in the MEAC.
Norfolk State becomes first MEAC team to release full 2017-18 schedule
It took 120 schools to release either their non-conference schedules or full slates for the 2017-18 season before we had a MEAC team join the party.
Good things come to those who wait, and we waited patiently for the MEAC to make an appearance.
Enter the Norfolk State Spartans, who released their full 2017-18 schedule on August 4th. Their schedule features a season opener on the road against the Auburn Tigers, and home dates against the likes of the Kent State Golden Flashes, Bowling Green Falcons, and Niagara Purple Eagles.
The Spartans welcome Virginia State to town on November 4th in the team’s lone exhibition game before the season gets underway on the 10th in Auburn, Alabama.
Norfolk State hosts Lynchburg College on November 13th in the home opener for the Spartans, before heading out to the West Coast for a pair of games over a three day span.
In conference play, the Spartans only take on the reigning MEAC champion North Carolina Central Eagles once, but it’s on the road in Durham. They close out the season with a home date their instate rivals, the Hampton Pirates, in a game that could have implications on the ensuing MEAC Tournament.
What are the best rivalries within the MEAC?
On the evening of August 5th, Kevin Sweeney (@CBB_Central) did another college basketball Q&A with his followers on Twitter. Surprisingly, one of the first questions of the night was about the MEAC. It’s surprising in the fact that many poke fun at the MEAC, and the question may have had a subtle sarcastic undertone to it all.
However, we love talking MEAC basketball, and love to see it come to the forefront.
Happening Hoops (@HappeningHoops) asked Kevin about the best rivalry in the MEAC, which got us thinking more about the topic. What actually are the conference’s biggest rivalries in basketball, if any?
Norfolk State Spartans v. Hampton Pirates
The state of Virginia is home to two of the perennial title contenders in the MEAC, in the Spartans and Pirates. Separated by a mere 26-minute drive down the I64-E, the instate rivalry between Norfolk State and Hampton provides some of the best MEAC basketball each season has to offer.
In 2016-17, the two teams split the season series, with each team winning on their home floor. The Pirates won at home by four, while the Spartans held down their home court to the tune of a 17-point drubbing.
This season should be more of the same, as both teams are expected to be near the top of the MEAC standings once again. Some things never change.
North Carolina Central Eagles v. North Carolina A&T Aggies
Many wouldn’t consider a rivalry between the reigning MEAC champions and the team that finished in last place a season ago to be an overly strong one. However, the Aggies made the most of their final home game last season against the Eagles.
North Carolina A&T only won one game against a Division I opponent in 2016-17, and it just so happened to come against their instate rivals. On March 2nd, The Aggies knocked off the Eagles, 68-63, behind a combined 39 points from Sam Hunt and Eliel Gonzalez.
North Carolina A&T finished the season with a 3-29 record.
With the Aggies poised to take a step forwards this season, the instate rivalry should be more competitive than it has been in recent years.
Morgan State Bears v. Coppin State Eagles
The city of Baltimore is home to arguably the best rivalry in the conference, and it’s received a breath of fresh air with the hiring of Juan Dixon as the head coach at Coppin State.
Located just 20 minutes from each other, Morgan State and Coppin State compete each and every year for more than just wins in the MEAC. City supremacy and bragging rights are also on the line each time the Bears and Eagles square off on the hardwood.
Morgan State swept the season series between the two programs in 2016-17, but both games could have gone either way. The Bears won both contests by a combined seven points. Close, competitive games are all you can ask for in a rivalry game, and fans got just that with the Bears and Eagles a season ago.
In 2017-18, expect more of the same from the two programs, especially since Dixon has given the Eagles a new sense of confidence moving forwards.
Coppin State adds guard to 2017 recruiting class
Ever since being introduced as the next the head coach of Coppin State back on April 26th, Juan Dixon has given the Eagles a renewed sense of confidence in the MEAC, and in the NCAA as a whole.
His confidence in himself and his abilities has rubbed off on the rest of his staff and the players, and his experience and sense of appeal has opened up Coppin State to new eyes on the recruiting trail.
Back on July 17th, the Eagles offered class of 2017 guard Mark Wilson a scholarship. Just over two weeks later, the talent from Austin, TX committed to Dixon and Coppin State.
The 6’0”, 165-pound point guard will add depth to a back court rotation that features sophomore guard Dejuan Clayton, who averaged 12.4 points and 3.1 assists per contest.
– T. Bennett