North Carolina Central Eagles
Record: (28-5, 15-1 MEAC)
RPI: 104 (.533)
BPI: 100 (58.0)
How They Qualified: Automatic Bid (won MEAC Tournament)
In most seasons, the Eagles are lucky to finish the season with a record at or above .500, let alone earning twenty wins. 28 wins in a season for them? Why that’s unheard of. However, this season has been an anomaly in terms of how successful they’ve been compared to recent seasons. At 28-5, the North Carolina Central Eagles have managed to not only win the regular season MEAC Title, but also put down the best record in school history since re-joining the MEAC in 2010.
Despite having two bad and preventable losses to Florida A&M and IUPUI, North Carolina Central has had a nearly flawless season for a small conference school. Three of their five losses were to large and quality schools, namely being Wichita State, Cincinnati, and Maryland. Ever heard of them? They even upset NC State in Raleigh earlier this year! This North Carolina Central team is a legitimate contender.
North Carolina Central has been an absolute force to be reckoned with in the MEAC this season. Winning 20 straight games going into the NCAA tournament, as well as earning a vote in the latest AP Poll, NCCU is a tough team that has been wrongly underestimated and overlooked all season.
What You Need to Know
Leading Scorer: Jeremy Ingram – 20.3 points per game
Leading Rebounder: Jay Copelan – 5.9 rebounds per game
Leading Passer: Emanuel Chapman – 6.5 assists per game
Bad Losses: @ IUPUI, @ FAMU
Good Wins: @ NC State
What to Expect
About two weeks ago, I posted a piece about three overlooked small conference teams this season. One of them was North Carolina Central. Back then, NCCU was 23-5 and they haven’t missed a step since then. As of Lunardi’s most recent update, NCCU was projected to be a fourteen seed that would face off against three-seeded Syracuse. Syracuse has certainly been in a slump lately and NCCU could no doubt pounce on that, as they’ve been surging since January thirteenth.
Nevertheless, I don’t expect the Eagles to pull off the first round upset. I won’t be picking them to win, but I know that I will be rooting for them to knock off the Orange and complete the end-season slump.
Congratulations to North Carolina Central! They are going dancing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever!