At a school in a one-bid league, the goals during basketball season are pretty basic.
Win the regular season. Try to be the best team for a week in March and make it to the NCAA tournament. And maybe steal a check or two in a supposed guarantee game.
That’s definitely life in the MEAC, where so many schools endure brutal early-season road swings to pay the bills.
Except Morgan State has beaten the system this year, winning at DePaul and now Maryland. And it got me thinking about how many MEAC teams have done that in the last dozen years or so.
Thanks to collegerpi.com, you can access schedules going back 15 years. I’m intentionally starting with 1996-97, since that is the year Coppin State beat South Carolina in the NCAA tournament.
So what is the league’s collective resume against power-conference teams in that span? Let’s look at how the MEAC’s dozen schools (including Winston-Salem State) have done.
BETHUNE-COOKMAN: @South Florida (2005)
COPPIN STATE: vs. South Carolina (1997-NCAA), @Missouri (1997)
DELAWARE STATE: None
FLORIDA A&M: None
HAMPTON: vs. Iowa State (2001-NCAA), @North Carolina (2001)
HOWARD: Oregon State (2008)
MD.-EASTERN SHORE: None.
MORGAN STATE: @DePaul (2008), @Maryland (2009)
NORFOLK STATE: None
NORTH CAROLINA A&T: @Texas A&M (1999), @DePaul (2007)
SOUTH CAROLINA STATE: @Clemson (1999), vs. Penn State (2004), @Miami (2004)
WINSTON-SALEM STATE: None.
As Morgan State’s game notes amusingly pointed out for Wednesday’s game. the MEAC winner is “usually relegated to play-in purgatory (four of the last five years).”
Given that Morgan State almost certainly has the best single-season nonconference resume of any league school in the recent past, it’s a safe bet the Bears won’t be stuck in the 64 vs. 65 game if they happen to earn their first NCAA tournament berth this season.
—- Patrick Stevens