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MEAC Monday: Keeping up with the MEAC

Howard and Norfolk State are hot through the first month of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Norfolk State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Not every Mid-Major conference causes consistent brutality during non-conference play. The MEAC is one of the conferences sadly. But the first month of the season is wrapping up and there’s plenty to catch up on in the MEAC.

If you didn’t know: It’s #MEACMonday. Let’s catch up.

Power Rankings

1. Howard (5-2)
2. Savannah State (3-4)
3. Bethune-Cookman (2-4)
4. Norfolk State (3-4)
5. North Carolina Central (2-4)
6. Morgan State (3-4)
7. North Carolina A&T State (1-5)
8. Delaware State (2-4)
9. Florida A&M (2-4)
10. Maryland Eastern Shore (1-5)
11. South Carolina State (1-5)
12. Coppin State (0-7)

What’s Going on in the MEAC?

Despite some easy games, Howard is looking quite dangerous right now; they’ve even picked up a win against Massachusetts. RJ Cole and Charles Williams are both averaging over 19 points a game. The 5-2 start is their best seven-game start in school history. Just north up I-95, the Morgan State Bears made a statement against Navy last week in a 75-51 blowout win. Then last night, the Bears followed that up with 43 bench points in a 78-68 win over Mount Saint Mary’s.

I caught up with coach Eric Skeeters after Delaware State’ contest with Loyola (MD).

Coach Skeeters understands that this season will be difficult and will be testing. He was hired rather late and he had to quickly build up a roster with only eight scholarship players and three walk-ons.

Luckily for Delaware State, they picked up their first win of the season against the College of St. Elizabeth. Norfolk State has a hard schedule early on but the Spartans are playing close in most of their contests. Nic Thomas is leading the team with 11.2 PPG.

The league favorite Bethune-Cookman Wildcats also are playing a tough schedule early. They lost by seven points to Miami and played well against Nebraska in their next contest. Lavell Moton, the most popular coach in the MEAC, and his NC Central Eagles are finding their footing. The Eagles have gone 2-2 in their last contest after starting 0-2. Meanwhile, Damni Applewhite is averaging 18.2 PPG for South Carolina State. Expect him to be chasing RJ Cole and Charles Williams for the MEAC scoring leader position.

Player of the Week: RJ Cole, Howard

In his first seven games of this season, RJ Cole has dropped 22, 14, 20, 17, 23, 26, and 31 points. He’s the top scorer in the conference and has gotten consistent buckets against a varied group of opponents. He’s made 35 out of 37 free throws and even leads the Bison in assists. As I mentioned before the season started, it’s a Cole World and the MEAC is living in it.

Games to Watch:

Monday, Nov. 26: Stetson at Bethune-Cookman
Tuesday, Nov. 27: Penn at Delaware State, Savannah State at Vanderbilt
Wednesday, Nov. 28: Morgan State at George Mason, South Carolina State at College of Charleston
Thursday, Nov. 29: Hampton at Norfolk State
Saturday, Dec. 1: Florida Atlantic at Bethune-Cookman, McNeese State at North Carolina Central, South Carolina State at Jacksonville

Game of the Week has to be Hampton vs Norfolk State. Hampton shook up the league by announcing their departure from the conference during football season last year, and the two sides bickered and took some nice shots at each other for months.

Back in March, Hampton almost took the MEAC’s automatic bid, losing in the MEAC Championship. Although it’s not obvious, expect most die hard MEAC fans to be pulling for NSU. Also, the Hampton vs Norfolk State rivalry is not pretty at all. The two sides have a strong disdain for each other no matter the sport. Expect Jermaine Marrow from Hampton to be ready to strike against Norfolk State. It’s much-watch TV for sure.