2014 CollegeInsider.com Tournament
Eastern Michigan Eagles (21- 14, 10-8 MAC) vs. Norfolk State Spartans (19-14, 11-5 MEAC)
DAY & TIME: Tuesday, March 18, 7 p.m. ET
WHERE: Convocation Center, Ypsilanti, Mich.
TV: None =(
HISTORY: This is the first time these two teams have ever met.
HOW'D THEY GET HERE: The Spartans finished third in the MEAC with a record of 11-5 record and earned the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. They fell to North Carolina Central 68-45 in the MEAC Tournament semifinals on March 14. The Spartans non-conference slate is forgettable at best. Even the losses were against mostly mediocre, or lower teams. The top non-conference win was probably against Boston University on Dec. 15. The Spartans won that game 86-82 in overtime.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: For a team that averages just 71 points a game the Spartans have a pair of dynamic scorers in senior guards Malcolm Hawkins and Pendarvis Williams. The duo averages 15.5 and 15.8 points per game respectively. Both also average around five boards. The duo are skilled sharpshooters averaging nearly four 3-pointers made a game between the two. If Norfolk State's offense is going to get going it will flow through these two.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Lock them down. EMU is built on defense. If you don't know this you've either A) not watched a single EMU game in the past few seasons, or B) come from outer space. The Eagles are ALL defense, all the time. Sometimes to a fault, like in the fact that EMU's offensive output leaves much to be desired. The Eagles run a 2-3 zone, and run it about as good as anyone. They led the nation in field goal percentage against this season, and feature some of the best defenders in the mid-major ranks. Glenn Bryant is an athletic nightmare who can box out bigs and rip down rebounds or swat shots, and press a guard and swipe the ball with ease. Da'Shonte Riley, the 2014 MAC Defensive Player of the Year holds down the paint, averaging nearly three blocked shots a game, and altering several more. If EMU can smother Norfolk State, a team that has had little to no experience against this highly unusual defensive scheme it should be fairly easy for the Eagles to control the pace of the game and crawl to a win.
WHAT'S NEXT: The CIT is a strange tournament to follow in that not only is it not televised until the semifinals, but also matchups aren't set ahead of time. There's no traditional bracket, instead they wait until the first round is over then figure out the best match ups. Basically, we won't know who EMU will get to play if they win until after they win.