Morgan, Claflin are at the head of the class

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: March 26, 2009

NEW YORK — From day one, the Bears of Morgan State were considered by many as one of the best teams in black college basketball. Todd Bozeman’s squad was the MEAC’s preseason favorite to win the conference and their 2008-09 finish did nothing to disprove that notion.

The Bears went a school record 23-12 en route to a regular season and tournament MEAC championship. Despite a first round loss to Oklahoma in the NCAA Tournament, Morgan completed the best season in school history since becoming a Division I program.

It’s also no surprise that Bozeman and Morgan State finished as the No. 1 team in the final BoxToRow.com/BASN Black College Men’s Division I Basketball Poll. MSU received all eight first-place votes in the inaugural poll.

On the heels of BASN’s two-year collaboration with DWCommunications, LLC on the BoxToRow.com/BASN HBCU Top 10 Football poll, this season marked the release of the inaugural basketball polls.

There are two separate weekly polls, one for Division I teams and one for Non-NCAA Division I teams (including NCAA Division II, NCAA Division II and NAIA Divisions I and II).

Alabama State, the SWAC’s tournament champions (22-10) are ranked second in the Division I poll with Jackson State (18-15) third followed by a pair of MEAC powers — South Carolina State (17-14) and Hampton (17-15) respectively.

The second five includes Prairie View A&M (17-16) are number six, Bethune-Cookman (17-16) is seventh, North Carolina A&T (16-15) at eight, Savannah State (15-14) at nine, and Coppin State (13-19) at number ten.

On the non-Division I side, another school which enjoyed an historic season sits atop our other men’s final poll. The Panthers of Claflin University (25-4), who finished their inaugural season as a member of the SIAC as regular season champions, were tabbed as the top team of that section.

Coach Ron Woodard’s squad fell in overtime to LeMoyne-Owen in the SIAC tournament semis. However, the Panthers made the NCAA Tournament and reached the semifinals of the Division II South Regional. Just like Morgan State, Claflin was a unanimous top choice.

Another SIAC team, Benedict College (24-6) is ranked second followed by a pair of CIAA teams — Johnson C. Smith (23-8) and Virginia Union (21-7) respectively. West Virginia State (24-6) rounds out the top five.

The rest of the poll has Talladega (21-8) at six, Tougaloo (22-11) is seventh, Lane College (22-8) sits at eight, Elizabeth City State (21-7) is ninth and Cheyney (18-9) rounds out the poll at tenth.

FINAL BTRC/BASN HBCU

MEN’S BASKETBALL POLLS

(Records Through March 25)

Division 1 W-L Pts LW 1. Morgan State (8) 23-12 80 1 2. Alabama State 22-10 71 2 3. Jackson State 18-15 63 3 4. South Carolina State 17-14 55 4 5. Hampton 17-15 45 6 6. Prairie View A&M 17-16 40 5 7. Bethune-Cookman 17-16 32 7 8. North Carolina A&T 16-15 26 8 9. Savannah State 15-14 20 9 10. Coppin State 13-19 5 10

Others: Norfolk State (11-17) 2, Tennessee State (12-18) 1.

Non Division I W-L Pts LW 1. Claflin (8) 24-5 80 1 2. Benedict College 24-6 70 2 3. Johnson C. Smith 23-8 66 3 4. Virginia Union 21-7 51 4 5. West Virginia State 24-6 46 5 6. Talladega 21-8 35 6 7. Tougaloo 22-11 27 7 8. Lane College 22-8 23 8 9. Elizabeth City State 21-7 18 9 10. Cheyney 18-9 10 NR

Others: LeMoyne-Owen (17-13) 3, Xavier, La. (19-12) 3, St. Augustine’s (19-10) 1.