After a big win on national TV against their crosstown rival Hampton, the Norfolk State Spartans will travel 119 miles to face the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks in an important MEAC matchup.
Norfolk State and UMES are among the top three teams in the conference, with the Hawks leading the MEAC with a 6-1 record. The Spartans are in third place at 5-2.
This game will also have massive implications for the MEAC standings going forward with several tie-breaking scenarios at play.
Both teams have won a combined 10 consecutive games. During their respective streaks, the Spartans are scoring 80.7 points per game and allowing 70 points per game. The Hawks are scoring 77.1 points per game and allowing 63 points per game.
Even though Maryland Eastern Shore has the top-ranked scoring defense in the conference, Norfolk State seems the better two-way team as they are the second-ranked scoring offense with 76.3 points per game and the third-ranked scoring defense with 69.1 points allowed per game.
The Spartans and Hawks are also first and third respectively in opposing field goal percentage. This defensive effort was witnessed when these two teams played last month in a 57-46 Norfolk State win on Jan. 7.
In that game, Maryland Eastern Shore only shot 29.4% from the field while Norfolk State shot 48.9%.
Reigning MEAC Player of the Year Joe Bryant Jr. had 15 points and seven assists. Kris Bankston had 9 points and 12 rebounds for the Spartans. The stars will definitely have to replicate this again if Norfolk State wants to sweep the season series.
For the Hawks, the players that must show up are leading scorer Zion Styles along with a supporting cast that includes Nathaniel Pollard Jr., Da’Shawn Phillip and Chace Davis.
Norfolk State has a chance to overtake Maryland Eastern Shore in the standings with a win. For Maryland Eastern Shore, a win would further solidify their place at the top of the MEAC. A loss would drop them to third if Howard wins.
Who: Norfolk State vs. Maryland Eastern Shore
When: Saturday, Feb. 11 at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Hytche Athletic Center, Princess Anne, Maryland