DURHAM, N.C. – North Carolina Central University makes its second trip to the NCAA Division-I Men’s Basketball Tournament, and its first trip to Dayton, Ohio for the First Four, and the Eagles will face Big West Tournament Champion UC Davis on Wednesday, March 15 at 6:40 p.m. The winner of this game moves on to Tulsa, Oklahoma to play No. 1 seed Kansas in the Midwest Regional.
2016-17 Regular Season
North Carolina Central (25-8, 13-3 MEAC)
UC Davis (22-12, 11-5 Big West)
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 – 6:40 p.m.
UD Arena – Dayton, Ohio
Audio: Westwood One
1. The Eagles have one NCAA Division-II National Championship, defeating Southeast Missouri State 73-45 in 1989.
2. NCCU’s 13-game win streak from Jan. 11 to Feb. 25 is the second-longest win streak in the Division I era for the Eagles.
3. NCCU is 343-278 all-time against the MEAC.
4. This is NCCU’s second NCAA Tournament appearance, and third postseason trip in the D-I era.
5. This is NCCU’s first trip to Dayton, Ohio in the NCAA Tournament.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES
UC Davis makes its first NCAA Tournament appearance after emerging as the Big West Tournament champion. The Aggies finished second in the Big West with a conference record of 11-5 and overall record of 21-12. UC Davis was an impressive 11-0 at home, and a combined 10-12 away from home. The Aggies bring two All-Big West First Team players in Brynton Lemar and Chima Moneke, with Moneke also being named Newcomer of the Year in the league. Through the league tournament, Lemar leads the squad in scoring with 16.0 points per game and also has 2.7 assists per outing, and Moneke is the leading rebounder with 9.5 caroms per game along with 14.5 points per contest. Brynton led the way in the Aggies’ 50-47 championship win over Cal State Fullerton with a game-high 20 points.
NCCU is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance, and its third postseason appearance in the Division-I era as the Eagles begin their journey in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. NCCU’s last NCAA tournament appearance was in 2014, when the Eagles fell to #3 Iowa State, 93-75. The Eagles’ last postseason appearance was an NIT trip to Miami (Fl.) where the Eagles were defeated 75-71.
THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE
NCCU earned three individual awards for the 2016-17 season as Patrick Cole was named MEAC Player of the Year as well as First Team All-MEAC, and head coach LeVelle Moton earned his second MEAC Coach of the Year award. Dajuan Graf was also voted Second Team All-MEAC. Cole is just the third Eagle to be named conference Player of the Year following Moton (CIAA Player of the Year, 1995-96) and Jeremy Ingram (MEAC Player of the Year, 2013-14). He finished the regular season as the leading assist maker in the league with 5.8 per game, and that is good for 22nd in the nation in NCAA Division-I. He also finished third in scoring with 19.8 points per game, and fifth in rebounding with 6.9 per outing. Moton coached the Eagles to a 23-7 record, and are ranked as one of the top-10 most improved in NCAA Division-I, and the Eagles also carried a 13-game win streak during the year. Graf finished the regular season as the second leading assist man in the MEAC with 5.2 per game, and was top-15 in scoring with 14.1 points per game. He was also one of the most efficient shooters, making 47.8 percent of his shots, good for top-10 in the league.
NCCU prides itself on defense, and for good reason as the Eagles are one of the best defensive teams in the nation. NCCU is second in NCAA Division-I in three-point defense, allowing just 29.0 percent of made three-point attempts, and are 10th in field-goal percentage defense and 39.1 percent. The Eagles are also 22nd in scoring defense by allowing just 63.4 points per game, and that helped them to the 14th best scoring margin of 11.7 points per contest.
FLYING HIGH IN THE MEAC
NCCU sits in the top-four of every MEAC stat category except for one, and within the individual stat categories over 20 spots are taken up by Eagles. As a team, the Eagles are first in five separate categories.
NEWCOMERS NO MORE
In just six seasons as a Division I program – NCCU achieved full NCAA Division I membership in August 2011 – the Eagles have posted four 20-win campaigns, earned three MEAC regular-season championships (2013-14, 2014-15, 2016-17) and won two MEAC tournament championships (2014, 2017). Two seasons ago, NCCU participated in the NIT with a road game against the University of Miami.
NICE TO MEET YOU
NCCU played Northern Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio State, LSU, McNeese State and Truett-McConnell for the first time during the 2016-17 season, and the Eagles emerged with a 4-2 record against those schools with the only losses coming against OSU and LSU. This is NCCU’s first meeting with UC Davis.
NCCU sits in the top-four of every MEAC stat category except for one, and within the individual stat categories over 20 spots are taken up by Eagles. As a team, the Eagles are first in six separate categories.