Predicted order of finish
1. Savannah State
2. Morgan State
3. Delaware State
4. Norfolk State
5. North Carolina Central
8. Coppin State
10. North Carolina A&T
11. Florida A&M
12. South Carolina State
13. Maryland-Eastern Shore
Surprise team: Morgan State. It won’t be that much of a surprise if the Bears bounce back to a winning record, but considering what a fiasco they were in cratering to 9-20, it would still be impressive if they find their way into the MEAC title chase.
Hot seat: Frankie Allen, Maryland-Eastern Shore. Allen is 34-89 in four seasons with a program nearly two decades removed from its last winning season, and the Hawks’ victory total has slipped in back-to-back years. There could be an addition to the coaching graveyard in remote Princess Anne at season’s end.
Three key players
F Rashad Hassan, Savannah State. The 6-foot-7 fifth-year senior led the Tigers in scoring a year and is one of five starters returning for a team that won the MEAC regular season crown before falling in the league quarterfinals.
G Tahj Tate, Delaware State. The sophomore is the top returning scorer in the conference after averaging 16.1 points last season for the Hornets, the regular-season runners-up a year ago.
G Pendarvis Williams, Norfolk State. The only returning starter from the team that stunned Missouri in the NCAA tournament’s round of 64, the 6-foot-6 point guard will be relied upon heavily this season by the Spartans.
Three key newcomers
C Jay Copeland, North Carolina Central. The Eagles graduated imposing forward Dominique Sutton and need someone to emerge up front. Copeland, a Ball State transfer, could play a major role in the frontcourt.
G Troy Franklin, Coppin State. The Towson transfer figures to see plenty of time at the point for Fang Mitchell’s Eagles, who are coming off a 14-16 season and a midpack finish in the MEAC.
G/F Anthony Hubbard, Morgan State. The 27-year-old (not a typo) is in line to make his Division I debut this season, the latest step in an atypical career arc. Hubbard served nearly four years in prison in connection with an armed robbery, played for two junior colleges and signed and was abruptly released from Iowa in 2011 before sitting out last season at Morgan State.