North Carolina Central Eagles: Facing UC Davis in Dayton

The North Carolina Central Eagles may be in the First Round of the NCAA, but they have a chance to gain their first NCAA victory against UC Davis.

This year it seems that the North Carolina Central Eagles are the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference team that just doesn’t get any respect. Win your conference and win your tournament and what does it bank you? A sixteen seed and a trip to Dayton to earn the right to play the number one seed on Friday. This seems like a MEAC tradition, and it is a stupid one. The Eagles deserve better.

They went 25-8 with a victory over Missouri. Unfortunately that was their only significant non-conference win and they played Missouri in the year where Missouri fired the basketball coach at the end of the season.

Let’s not dwell on that. The Eagles are still in the big dance and get to be part of survive and advance. The next round lies just beyond the California-Davis Aggies in Dayton. The Aggies will bring a bit of balance to the proceedings. They have senior guard Brynton Lemar, who leads them in scoring at just over sixteen points per game. Junior forward Chima Moneke is good for about a double-double each time out, averaging fourteen points and nine rebounds a contest.

Lemar heads a list of five shooters for the Aggies who play at least ten minutes and average at least 35% from the three point line. That will be a sore spot for Central, since their own three point shooting as a team is 29%. They can’t afford to get in a shooting match with the Aggies.

The Aggies are coached by former Bradley coach Jim Les, who made a Sweet Sixteen run back in 2006.

The Eagles will be looking to do the things that they do well. Patrick Cole is the most dangerous scorer on this court with a season average near twenty points a game. Dajuan Graf checks in as the team’s best shooter with fourteen points per game and nearly 40% from the three point line. The Eagles will at least be comparable in size down in the low post. Senior leadership will also be crucial to pull them through.

Tip off will be at 6:40 PM Wednesday.