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Coach: LeVelle Moton
Record: 28-5 (15-1 MEAC)
Rankings and Ratings:
– Kenpom: 78
– RPI: 104
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked
Seeding?: Likely 13 seed
Names you need to know: Jeremy Ingram, 6-foot-3 senior guard (2o.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Jordan Parks, 6-foot-7 junior forward (10.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Jay Copeland, 6-foot-7 junior forward (8.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Emanuel Chapman, 6-foot-1 senior guard (6.8 ppg, 6.5 apg)
Stats you need to know: North Carolina Central has won 20 consecutive games after last losing to Florida A&M on January 11th. Senior guard Jeremy Ingram is 19th in the country at 20.3 points per game. Senior point guard Emanuel Chapman is seventh in the nation in assists at 6.5 assists per contest and 33rd in the nation in steals at 2.06 per game.
Tendencies: North Carolina Central’s offense relies heavily on the shot-happy Ingram, as he nearly doubled any other member of the roster in field goal attempts and free throw attempts. Although the Eagles can rely a bit too much on Ingram, they also move the ball pretty well and take high-percentage looks a fair amount of the time. North Carolina Central is not a particularly good three-point shooting team as well. Defensively, the Eagles love to get out and pressure the ball and average eight team steals a game, good enough for top-20 in the nation. North Carolina Central is also good at taking away interior looks by packing the paint and daring opponents to hit shots after pressuring the ball.
Big wins, bad losses: The Eagles picked up a huge in-state road win at North Carolina State on November 20th. It’s the only top-150 RPI win for North Carolina Central on the season, but they have respectable road losses to Cincinnati, Wichita State and Maryland. The Eagles have two bad losses on the year at IUPUI and at Florida A&M.
How’d they get here?: The Eagles won easily against Howard and Norfolk State before defeating Morgan State, 71-62, in the MEAC Tournament title game.
Outlook: North Carolina Central will have something to prove in the NCAA Tournament as the Eagles were also 15-1 in the MEAC last season before a shocking first-round loss to North Carolina A&T in the MEAC Tournament ended their NCAA Tournament hopes. Now, after another 15-1 MEAC season, this is a dangerous North Carolina Central team that has a big-time scorer in Ingram and a defense that can really get out and pressure the ball. If the Eagles face a higher-seeded team that has difficulty scoring in droves or handling pressure, they could be an upset pick to watch.
How do I know you?: North Carolina Central was a Division II power for many years and won a national title in 1989 and this is the first season they’ve made it to the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level.. Head coach LeVelle Moton is an interesting story because he’s one of the best players in Eagles’ program history and became an assistant coach in 2007 and the head coach in 2009. Moton has seen North Carolina Central transition from Division II as a player, to Division I Independent as a coach and finally as a member of the MEAC.