Tiny Dancers: North Carolina Central rolls into the NCAA Tournament
North Carolina Central could be a potential upset pick in the NCAA Tournament.
The MEAC was North Carolina Central's to lose. The Eagles entered the conference tournament on a 17-game winning streak, rolling through nearly opponent on their way to a regular-season title.
The tournament was no different, as NCCU won the first two games by a combined 69 points -- and then took care of Morgan State in the championship, 71-62.
Jeremy Ingram led the way with 29 points and four 3-pointers, and the Eagles' stout defense their usual job on Morgan State, holding the Bears to 37.9 percent shooting from the field and 23.8 percent shooting from 3-point range.
This completes a tremendous turnaround North Carolina Central has undergone since head coach LeVelle Moton came aboard. The Eagles went 8-55 before Moton arrived, but have increased their win total in each of Moton's five seasons at the helm.
Player to know: Jeremy Ingram. North Carolina Central doesn't light up the scoreboard, but Ingram can flat-out get buckets. He had 29 points in the title game against Morgan State, his 18th game with at least 20 points. Ingram also hit the 30-point plateau five times this season, finishing the season averaging 20.3 points. He scored 37 points against Wichita State, 29 points against NC State and 27 points against Cincinnati.
- Record: 28-5 overall, 15-1 in the MEAC
- Most recent tournament appearance: This will be the Eagles' first NCAA Tournament appearance.
- Jerry Palm predicts: 14 seed
- RPI: 104
- KenPom ranking: 78
- Sagarin ranking: 84
- Best wins: at North Carolina St., vs. Winthrop
- Worst losses: at Florida A&M, at IUPUI
- Notable stat: 20. That's the number of consecutive wins for the Eagles, who haven't lost since Jan. 11 at Florida A&M. It's the fifth-longest current winning streak in the country.
- Closing quip: With the number of lower-seeded teams winning conference tournaments, North Carolina Central moved up from a team at the back-end of the 15 seeds to a team that can sneak into the 14 range and create problems for a higher seeded team. The Eagles are a terrific defensive team, forcing turnovers and defending inside the arc effectively. They have a ton of momentum, and do own a win at North Carolina State.
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