North Carolina Central was the best team in the MEAC all season.
Until they lost in the conference tournament semifinals to Delaware State.
The automatic bid was gone. After selection Sunday, the at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament was no where to be found since the MEAC historically is a one-bid league.
The Eagles will now swallow hard and turn their attention to the NIT, where ACC opponent Miami awaits tonight.
“I feel like in situations like this, this is where the hard work pays off. If we were to go straight to the NCAA tournament, it would be by default because we just won the game,” senior Jordan Parks said. “But we put ourselves in a position where we messed up, we still get a chance.
“So this is what it’s all about and I think the guys understood that and they let me know that we’re on the same page and we’re going for the same goal.”
About the Hurricanes
The Miami Hurricanes (21-12, 10-8 ACC) finished the regular season sixth in the ACC, then lost in the ACC Tournament to eventual champion Notre Dame.
Junior guard Sheldon McClellan tops the Hurricanes in scoring with 14.7 points per game. His backcourt mate Angel Rodriguez averages 12.2 points per game with a team-high 4.0 assists per contest.
Big man Tonye Jekiri, who averages 10.2 rebounds per outing, led the ACC in rebounding during the regular season.
Miami, who is just 10-6 at home this season, will be looking to make a statement against the upstart Eagles.
“We were actually better on the road than we were at home,” said Hurricanes head coach Jim Larrañaga. “We won 11 road games and lost only six. We were 10-6 at home. Being at home, we don’t have that great home court advantage like some teams do. I told our guys we need to start dominating at home like a lot of the best teams in the country do.”
Tale of the tape
NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL
Record: 25-7 overall, 16-0 in the MEAC
KenPom ranking: 109
Sagarin ranking: 76.2
Record: 21-12 overall, 10-8 in the ACC
KenPom ranking: 52
Sagarin ranking: 83.2
North Carolina Central (-9) vs. Miami (Linemakers)
7 p.m. Eastern