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2017 NCAA tournament preview: N.C. Central

N.C. Central Eagles: 25-8, 13-3 in the MEAC

Head coach: LeVelle Moton (8th season)

Players to watch: Patrick Cole (19.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 5.7 APG); Dajuan Graf (14.3 PPG, 5.2 APG); Kyle Benton (9.1 PPG, 8.2 RPG)

Season recap: The eventual top seed in the MEAC, N.C. Central got its season off on a strong note with a Nov. 28 win at SEC side Missouri by 10 points. The Eagles also played close road games against Power-5 teams Ohio State and LSU, but could not add another big-time win to their resume before retreating to the confines of their conference schedule.

Head coach LeVelle Moton—a rumored dark horse for the same position at N.C. State—led N.C. Central to one of its best seasons in recent memory as the Eagles ran through their league schedule. N.C. Central's three MEAC losses came by a combined seven points, and it picked up 14 double-digit wins after November en route to the Eagles' second NCAA tournament appearance since joining the Division I ranks. Moton's team features a dominant all-around force with leading scorer and assist man Patrick Cole—this year's MEAC Player of the Year—who is joined by Dajuan Graf in the Eagle backcourt.

How they make a run: N.C. Central uses a similar formula to the one it put together in Columbia, Mo., earlier this year with lockdown defense in order to get past UC Davis, then stay close to No. 1 seed Kansas. 

How they falter: The Eagles' top weapon is contained, and without Cole putting up close to his season-average 19.5 points, N.C. Central is quickly bounced in the play-in game. 

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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