MEAC Tournament Odds: 4-Team Race to the Finish

MEAC Tournament Features 4 Teams at +400 or Lower

The MEAC Tournament odds indicate a wide-open tournament with a handful of teams with legitimate chances to win the title. The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference isn’t a particularly strong one, so you’re going to find weak spots for each team. The tournament will be decided by whichever team can compensate the best to overcome their problem spots. Still, you won’t want to have anybody from the MEAC in your March Madness contest.

Howard was the regular season champion, but the Bison are third in the betting odds. Second-place finisher North Carolina Central is the favorite. Norfolk State, who tied for third is the No. 2 betting choice. Playing in Norfolk won’t hurt, either. Maryland Eastern Shore is No. 4 in betting and had the best defense in the MEAC.

The Favorites

NCCUNorth Carolina Central Eagles (+160)

Nobody was playing better than the Eagles at the end of the regular season. NCC won its final seven games, defeating Howard and Norfolk State in the process. The Eagles are a strong defensive team, especially by MEAC standards. The offense is the big question mark. North Carolina Central is a pretty average shooting team. Its biggest problem is getting shots off before making turnovers. The Eagles give the ball away 22.9% of their possessions, which ranks No. 355.

On defense, the Eagles are strong defending the 3-pointer, holding teams to 31.7%. Teams have a little more success on the inside, where NCC allows 50.5% on 2-point attempts. The Eagles are solid at forcing turnovers but do allow a high number of offensive rebounds. NCC was a solid team against the college basketball odds, going 14-8-2 against the spread.

NORFNorfolk State Spartans (+250)

Norfolk State had the best offense in the MEAC, although Howard wasn’t too far behind when looking at only conference games. The Spartans beat up several weak foes in the preseason, which inflated their offensive numbers a bit. But Norfolk State also got its butt kicked by the likes of Houston, UCLA and Baylor in the preseason, which hurt its defensive numbers. Norfolk State isn’t quite as good as it looks offensively, while the defense is probably a little better than it looks. In MEAC games, the Spartans were No. 1 in offense and No. 3 on defense.

The Spartans will do their offensive damage from the inside, where the team scores 52.1% of its points. A big reason for that is the team’s ability to grab offensive rebounds. On defense, the Spartans allow too many 3-pointers and it’s definitely the weak spot defensively. Opposing teams score 39.5% of their points on 3-pointers. Norfolk State is a decent team and not having to travel should work to its advantage.

HOWHoward Bison (+325)

The MEAC Tournament odds on Howard are a bit surprising, as you would expect the conference champion to be a bit lower. The Bison are another team that can shoot the 3-pointer but also makes far too many turnovers. Howard ranked No. 357 in protecting the basketball. The Bison were strong on the offensive glass and got some second chances.

On defense, the Bison aren’t anything special. Howard was able to force some turnovers but allowed a high percentage of shots to fall. The Bison were No. 234 in 3-point percentage and No. 273 in 2-point percentage, allowing teams to hit 52% of their inside shots.

The Outsiders

UMESMaryland Eastern Shore Hawks (+400)

The Hawks had the best defensive efficiency rating in the MEAC, primarily because they force turnovers. UMES isn’t a great team defending shots. But its defense was able to prevent shots, which is just as good. The Hawks are a little better than average defending the 3-point shot, but do allow a high percentage of 2-pointers to fall.

Offensively, it can be a challenge. The team doesn’t shoot particularly well and makes too many turnovers. UMES scores 34.4% of its points from 3-point range and has a little more success shooting from the outside. If the 3-pointers are falling, the Hawks‘ defense can make it tough for opponents.

MORGMorgan State Bears (+2000)

The Bears finished .500 in conference play and did beat the other four teams listed at least once, so they can’t be discounted. Morgan State is a hard team to figure out. The Bears hit 36.3% from 3-point range, which is No. 65 in the nation. But fewer than 30% of their shots are from 3-point range. Instead, the Bears shoot 70% of their shots from 2-point range, where they hit just 44.9%. Morgan State is tough defensively against the 3-pointer, but its 2-point defense leaves a bit to be desired.

Projected Championship Matchup

The MEAC Tournament odds are a bit telling here. The fact that Howard isn’t one of the top two teams in the betting odds should leave you looking elsewhere for your tournament winner. Maryland Eastern Shore has a shot, but would need a few things fall into place. Those who like to look for longshots in their March Madness betting odds could do a lot worse than Morgan State. The top two teams in terms of betting, Norfolk State and NC Central are likely to meet in the semifinals, so one of them will be in the title game. It’s a matter of who the opponent is going to be. Howard is still the most likely opponent, so will take Norfolk State +250 for the tournament, defeating Howard in the title game.
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