March 3, 2008 11:27 am ET by Kyle Whelliston
North Carolina A&T at Hampton (MEAC)
Convocation Center - Hampton, VA
8:00 PM EST
Morgan State has pretty much run away with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference race, clinching the No. 1 seed last week and winning a 39-36 American-style football game at defending regular-season titlist Delaware State. But there are plenty of seed battles to be determined, and that's where our preseason favorite and early-season standouts come in. It's the league's top offense against the league's best D in this evening's M!E!A!C! G!O!T!N!.
North Carolina A&T (14-14, 9-7), tonight's visitors, had all the markings of a team ready to claim the championship: six seniors, lots of returning scoring, and a steady year-over-year progression up the win column. And the Aggies rebounded well from the type of guarantee-game schedule most MEAC teams face, and even claimed a win at DePaul over Thanksgiving. A long road trip through places like Tennessee, Miami (Fla.) and Washington State was quickly forgotten when A&T won six MEAC games in a row in January. But February's been less kind: five losses in eight games, and a lot of inconsistent effort on defense. But as expected, this is the league's top offense, scoring a league-high 70.6 points. It's that 72.3 given up that's been the problem.
Hampton (16-11, 11-5) made a huge nonconference splash, beating eventual CAA regular-season champion VCU by nine points in November. They followed that up with a crushing 65-31 league-opening win in the battle of the HU's over Howard in New York City, and have established themselves as the top defensive team in the league. But the Pirates have fallen back to second after losing four of six last month, and have been swept by Morgan. Their road issues, however, are deceptively easy to figure out: they don't do well at gyms to the north. Hampton is 0-4 at Del-State, Maryland-Eastern Shore, and the two Baltimore schools (Coppin and Morgan). Lucky for them, their final two regularly-scheduled are at home, and the conference tourney is down south in Raleigh.
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