The NC Central Eagles made their first NCAA Tournament in 2014. Since then, the Eagles have held down the MEAC with an iron fist. They are not new to this dance at all, on a few levels. The Eagles have a winning pedigree on the Division II level in the CIAA, and since their jump to D-I in 2007-08, it has not changed.
Coach LeVelle Moton has been to four NCAA tournaments since his first season in 2009-10. A decade ago, the Eagle program was getting settled into the MEAC and now, the MEAC hardwood has turned into the Eagles Nest.
Death, Taxes, and NC Central.
How They Got Here
NC Central entered the MEAC Tournament this year as the 3 seed. Although the Eagles are a constant player in the conference, Norfolk State and North Carolina A&T were the top dogs for most of the season during conference play. But when the teams entered the Norfolk Scope last week, the Eagles reminded everyone of who really runs the MEAC.
NCCU defeated Eric Skeeters’ Delaware State team in the quarterfinals. Skeeters was a UMBC assistant during its Cinderella run least year. The semifinals was a clash with their rival: North Carolina A&T. The MEAC’s premier rivalry did not disappoint, as Central avenged its two losses to A&T in the regular season with a 65-63 win. In the title game, the Eagles had to go through the Norfolk State Spartans, the top seed. NC Central was down by 10 points at halftime, but the second half was a different story. After an absolute offensive meltdown by NSU that saw the Spartans shoot 4-22 in the second half, the Eagles rose again and clinched another tournament bid.
Meet The Eagles
Moton’s squad is loaded with experienced players with excellent basketball IQs. They also are tough and can give a game to anyone.
It starts with Raasean Davis. The senior center from Chicago started his collegiate career at Kent State but transferred to NC Central before his junior season. Since then, he’s grabbed everything out of the air. It doesn’t matter what, Davis can rebound it. The machine is one of the top rebounding centers in the nation. He also leads the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game. He’s an efficient shooter and has racked up 23 career double-doubles.
Jibri Blount has had major moments this season as well. He scored nine key points in NCCU’s MEAC title win and has stepped up when called on for the Eagles. The same goes for Larry McKnight Jr., Zacarry Douglas, and Jordan Perkins. For McKnight, the North Miami native averages 9.4 points and flows well in NCCU’s tough defensive sets that stifle its opponents. Standing at 6’8, Zacarry Douglas towers over his competition. That height came into play as he grabbed 32 rebounds during three MEAC tournament games. Jordan Perkins is a key piece as he leads the team in assists.
But overall, the Eagles are loaded with talent and players who can execute under pressure. It’s great to have talent, but Moton has proven that the mental maturity can truly get you to the top.
What’s Next for the Eagles
The Eagles will face Summit League champs, North Dakota State in Dayton on Tuesday night. The winner of that game will face Duke on Thursday.
We now go to Moton for his thoughts on Duke...
NCCU head coach Levelle Moton wants absolutely NOTHING to do with Duke in the NCAA Tournament pic.twitter.com/KW1LJqGXa4— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 16, 2019
We now go to Moton for more thoughts on Duke...
Anything to bring Headlines and click bait to their sites...smh Disgusting— LeVelle Moton (@LeVelleMoton) March 18, 2019