24998352_BG1 Making the NCAA tournament is a lifelong dream for North Carolina Central University Coach LeVelle Moton, but the reality that his team is actually going to the big dance still hasn’t set in.

“It’s 100 miles per hour, but needless to say I’m exhausted,” he said. “But it is a good exhausted.”

The Eagles just won their first conference championship since joining Division I in 2011, beating Morgan State on Saturday 71-62 for the MEAC title.

“It was really emotional for me, because when you’re born into poverty and labeled an outcast, and you’re placed in the box,” he said, “all you have is your dreams.”

They are dreams Moton wasn’t sure would come true. He grew up in a fatherless home in the Raleigh projects and said the odds were stacked against him.

But he credits a lot of family support and prayers for the life he has now.

“I saw a vision beyond my circumstances, and I am extremely grateful for that,” he said. “Especially when it comes to life through the course of a championship.”

“It’s really about believing in who you are,” Moton said. “You really have to be your own best friend because so many people have dreams. The dream is free; it’s the journey that’s expensive.”

It’s a journey he is taking with his team to the NCAA tournament.

“We’re trying to go play a really good Iowa State team and try to play the best we can,” Moton said. “It’s going to be business as usual.”

N.C. Central plays Iowa State on Friday.

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