Introducing Cinderella: North Carolina Central is back in the field

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Conference: MEAC

Coach: LeVelle Moton

Record: 19-15, 9-7 (Sixth in MEAC)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 315
– RPI: 291
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked

Seeding: As the sixth-place team in one of the worst conferences in the country, North Carolina Central is almost assuredly heading to Dayton and playing in the First Four as a No. 16 seed.

Names you need to know: Junior center Raasean Davis is the team’s best player as the 6-foot-9 big man led the Eagles in points and rebounds this season after transferring in from Kent State. Davis put up 15.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game this season. Junior wing Pablo Rivas is the team’s only other double-figure scorer at 11.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Stats you need to know: North Carolina Central is going to slow things down as they are the No. 316 team in the country when it comes to adjusted tempo. The Eagles also deserve credit for their shot selection as they are No. 79 in the country in field goal percentage at 46 percent despite being a bad perimeter shooting team (33 percent from three).

Big wins, bad losses: North Carolina Central played the No. 350 strength of schedule in the country out of 351 teams this season, according to KenPom. They didn’t play a lot of stiff competition. Or any competition at all. The Eagles had three non-conference wins against Division I opponents. The conference tournament title game win over Hampton was, legitimately, the team’s best win of the year. Illinois was the only power conference team North Carolina Central faced all season.

How’d they get here?: North Carolina Central won four games in the MEAC Tournament to make the 2018 NCAA tournament. The Eagles beat Coppin State, Savannah State, Morgan State and Hampton to earn their entry.

Outlook: Well, at least North Carolina Central should be familiar with Dayton, as this will likely be the second consecutive season the Eagles are headed there. It also gives the program a chance at winning a game over another No. 16 seed before facing an inevitable defeat to a No. 1 seed in the next game.

How do I know you?: Besides for making the NCAA tournament last season, LeVelle Moton and the Eagles also made the Big Dance in 2014.