Could near-empty arena help Norfolk State end Scope skid, win MEAC title?

Norfolk State’s Robert Jones voted MEAC men’s hoops Coach of the Year
Posted at 10:40 AM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 10:40:31-05

NORFOLK, Va. - It's a hometown advantage that has not produced much of an advantage. Since the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) basketball tournament moved to Norfolk in 2013, neither the Norfolk State University men's nor women's teams have won the title.

The 2021 tournament starts Thursday at Norfolk Scope Arena. The NSU women face Coppin State at Noon, while the NSU men draw three-time reigning MEAC tournament champion North Carolina Central at 8 p.m.

With no tickets being sold to the general public due to COVID-19 restrictions, Spartans men's head coach Robert Jones thinks it will help his team.

"A lot of times when we're the quote-unquote home team, we're at a disadvantage," Jones explained to News 3 Sports Director Adam Winkler earlier this week. "As we would go watch games [at the arena] and bring kids to watch other teams to just get them out of the hotel, people are telling them this is the year to win it. It just puts added pressure. I think the pressure is a little different this year - you can go out and kind of just play, now. It's just us."

The Spartans enter the tournament as the MEAC North No. 2 seed after tying Coppin State for the Northern Division title at 8-4. North Carolina Central is the South No. 3 seed after finishing third in the standings at 3-5 behind both North Carolina A&T and Florida A&M.

NSU carries the league's best overall record at 14-7.