MEAC Championship Odds, Picks | Norfolk State vs Howard Prediction
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: The Howard Bison men’s basketball team.
MEAC Tournament Championship
Norfolk State vs Howard Odds
|Norfolk State Spartans Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Howard Bison Odds|
-110o / -110u
In a battle of the behemoths of the Mid-Eastern Conference (MEAC), the No. 1 seed Howard Bison will face the No. 3 seed Norfolk State Spartans on Saturday afternoon for the MEAC Tournament Championship.
Howard owns the bragging rights to the season series, winning both games the two schools played this year. In the first game, Howard was just able to slip away with the victory, 86-84. Then on Senior night in D.C., the Bison won emphatically by a score of 87 to 67.
Now, Howard looks to make it three straight victories — but the surging Spartans will be their toughest opponent of the MEAC Tournament.
KenPom Rank: 198
After a regular season that did not live up to expectations, Norfolk State has turned it on when it matters most, advancing to the MEAC Tournament Championship as a No. 3 seed.
In the opening round, the Spartans cruised past No. 6 seed Coppin State during the second half, eventually winning 73-56. Norfolk State followed up last night against North Carolina Central — arguably the best team in the tournament — and the Spartans pulled away in overtime en route to a 72-65 victory.
For the Spartans, there is one name that you need to know going into MEAC Tournament championship game: Joe Bryant, Jr.
A fifth-year guard and a native of Norfolk, VA, Bryant Jr. has cemented his legacy as one of the best to ever do it for the Spartans. Bryant Jr. repeated as MEAC Player of the Year in 2023, and the veteran will be called upon heavily to lead the Spartans on Saturday night.
Graduate forward Kris Bankston, an All-MEAC First Team and All-MEAC Defensive Team awardee, will also be an integral part of the front presence.
KenPom Rank: 218
The top-seeded Bison have made easy work of the first two rounds of the MEAC Tournament, buzzing through their opposition on their way to the conference title game.
In the opening round, things got out of hand quickly for No. 8 seed South Carolina State as Howard cruised to an easy 91-55 win. No. 4 seed University of Maryland Eastern Shore kept it close in the first half of yesterday’s semifinal round. But, Howard pulled away in the second half on 58.7% shooting from the field.
Coming off of their first regular season title since the 1992 season, Howard was able to piece together an excellent team. However, questions still abound as to whether or not Howard is the best team in the league.
Even with the top seed in the MEAC Tournament, the Bison rank third in Ken Pomeroy’s national rankings of MEAC members. On the other hand, Bart Torvik ranks Howard as the conference’s top dog.
Howard benefits from a deep squad; four Bison players being awarded All-MEAC honors for the 2023 season. Sophomore guard Elijah Hawkins earned First Team All-MEAC honors after leading the team in scoring (13.1 points per game), 3-point percentage (48.1%), assists (172) and steals (51).
Freshman forward Shy Odom was named to the All-Rookie Team after finishing third on the team in scoring (10.9 points per game) and second in rebounds (4.4 per game).
Norfolk State vs Howard Betting Pick
Both squads are evenly matched in Saturday’s title game, but Howard is the high-value play due to the team’s relative efficiency advantage and price point.
The efficiency advantage becomes glaring when assessing Norfolk State’s weakness on defense. The Spartans rank 262nd in AdjD per KenPom and have struggled slow opposing offenses throughout the season.
I expect Howard to exploit Norfolk State on offense — especially from beyond the arc, where the Bison rank 24th in the nation 3-point percentage.
While Norfolk State clearly has a hometown advantage, it has also faced a much more difficult path to the MEAC championship game. In particular, playing in the late game last night — and enduring overtime — may impact the Spartans’ performance on a very short turnaround.
Simply put, Norfolk State is going to be the more tired team on Sunday, and I expect a sluggish Spartans defense to be the weak link.
In the previous two meetings, Howard scored 86 and 87 points, respectively. I do not necessarily expect the Bison to get to an eight handle for the third time in as many contests, but Howard has had Norfolk State’s number.
I recommend taking Howard to win outright at +100 or better.
Pick: Howard ML +100 or better
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