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MEAC tournament: Preview, prediction, TV info

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

C (USATSI)
NCCU's Jeremy Ingram leads a team that rates as best out of the MEAC in more than a decade. (USATSI)

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What: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.

When: March 10-15.

Where: All games held at Scope Arena in Norfolk, Va.

Bracket: View tournament field here.

TV: Championship game on ESPNU (March 15, 16 p.m.).

Last year's champ: North Carolina A&T (19-16, No. 16 seed)

What matters: This is a league that would greatly benefit from getting its top seed into the field. North Carolina Central is far and away the best team the MEAC has this season. The Eagles went 15-1 in the league and in fact have won 17 in a row. It ranks 99th in KenPom and 111 in RPI, both strong numbers for a MEAC club. The team allows less than 60 points per game.

Hampton is the No. 2 seed, having finished 13-3. Morgan State and Norfolk State are the three and four (11-5 in league play). The MEAC is like the big-conference tournaments in that it's day after day after day, as opposed to most smaller leagues, which either spread out their brackets or only have three days tops of consecutive play. This one starts Monday and ends Saturday.

Who matters: Jeremy Ingram, who had 29 points in NCCU's win at North Carolina State earlier this season, is the league's best player. Jordan Parks is second on the team in points and rebounds. Emanuel Chapman, who's averaging 6.7 assists, is best in the MEAC at the dish. Malcolm Hawkins, who shoots a league-best 43 percent from 3, is the threat for Norfolk State.

If Hampton's going to take it, Du'Vaughn Maxwell (14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds) will be the man down low moving the world out of his way. The Pirates in general excel on the boards.

Fun fact: A 5-32 is the NCAA Tournament record for this league, all-time. Norfolk State gave the MEAC its proudest moment when, as a 15 seed in 2012, it upset Missouri.

Prediction: This league tournament is not predictable. Only three times in the past 10 years has the No. 1 seed won it all. It's a grind and a crazy environment, but I think NCCU is going to have the ability to break through. The Eagles are far and away the best-rated team this conference has produced in more than a decade. They should win and completely bypass the First Four in the process.

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