Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hampton to lead field in upcoming MEAC Tournament

Two days after all other MEAC teams had concluded their regular seasons, Maryland-Eastern Shore downed Bethune-Cookman 63-54 in the re-staging of fight-marred suspended game on Valentine's Day to finalize the bracket for next week's MEAC Tournament.

By the way, the aftermath of that fight clearly seems to have impacted Bethune-Cookman's on-court fortunes. The Wildcats were leading UMES 32-21 when all hell broke loose. Bethune has dropped all four of its MEAC games since, and that doesn't include the game they forfeited to Hampton as self-punishment because of the brawl.

The MEAC Tournament will run Tuesday through Saturday at the Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem, N.C. Not sure if it's intentional, but the event's schedule maximizes the chances that the top seed, in this case Hampton, will advance. Most tournaments require its champion to win three, or sometimes four games on consecutive days. At the MEAC, the Lady Pirates will open on Wednesday, and if they win will have a full day off before their semifinal at noon Friday. The final is set for 5 p.m. Saturday.

We like this approach, especially for a one-bid league like the MEAC. It rewards the team that has proven itself to be the league's best over the two-plus months long haul. Also, while it's great to promote an ''anyone-can-win-it" agenda, do you really want a team with a losing record representing the conference at the NCAAs? Of course, some extra rest doesn't guarantee Hampton anything. But by securing the No. 1 seed, we believe the Lady Pirates have earned that rest.

MEAC Tournament schedule

No. 7 Maryland-Eastern Shore vs. No. 10 Delaware State, 11 a.m.
No. 8 South Carolina State vs. No. 9 Bethune-Cookman, 1:30 p.m.
No. 6 Howard vs. No. 11 Norfolk State, 4 p.m.

No. 2 Morgan State vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore-Delaware State winner, 10 a.m.
No. 1 Hampton vs. South Carolina State-Bethune-Cookman winner, 12:30 p.m.

No. 3 North Carolina A&T vs. Howard-Norfolk State winner, noon
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 5 Coppin State, 2:30 p.m.

Semifinals, noon and 2:30 p.m.

Final, 5 p.m.

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