Written by Thomas Scott
Durham, NC |Tonight’s matchup between North Carolina Central and North Carolina A&T is more than a rivarly game. Beyond bragging rights, tonight’s winner will be crowned regular season MEAC champs.
Since joining the MEAC in the 2011-2012 season, North Carolina Central has won three outright regular season MEAC champions and the last three MEAC Tournament championships. A win tonight for the Aggies would be their first outright MEAC championship since the 1987-1988 season!
While the ultimate goal is to win next week’s MEAC tournament and earn a trip to March Madness; securing the regular season title can still go a long way in building either program. All Division I regular season conference champs receive an automatic berth to the NIT Tournament and playing in the postseason isn’t something fans should take lightly. Consider tonight’s game as an insurance factor against any upsets in the MEAC Tournament. A&T Interim Head Coach, Will Jones, explained his thought process:
We’re in a situation where we’re trying to build tradition, trying to build our program. So securing postseason is definetly a plus for us.Will Jones | A&T Interim Head Coach
North Carolina A&T dominated the first meeting between these teams, beating the Eagles 77-60 in Greensboro. Since that game, North Carolina Central has gone 4-0 including one possesion victories over South Carolina State and Bethune-Cookman.
The Aggies have also gone undefeated since their win over the Eagles and have won 6 of their last 8 games overall.
There is no shortage of talent on either side. North Carolina Central’s Jibri Blount is likely to win MEAC Player of the Year.
The 6’7 foward has been a force on both sides of the ball, leading league in scoring at 19.3 points per game and steals (64). He is also top three in rebounding and field goal percentage. Numbers aside, Blount will have to play better for the Eagles to win tonight. The last time these teams met, Blount was held well below his averages scoring only 8 points on 3-11 shooting.
The key player is tonight’s matchup for North Carolina A&T is none other than the Aggies all-time assist leader, Kam Langley.
Kam Langley is having a very special season. One that we probably won’t fully appreciate until the year is done. Like his rival, Jibril Blount, Langley has completly controlled both sides of the ball. He is currently second in all of Division I basketball with 7.6 assists per game. The 6’2 point guard is also the Aggies second leading rebounder and team leader in steals. Look for Langley to dictate the pace of this game and get his teammates open looks. He will have to win his matchup against Eagle guard, Jordan Perkins for the Aggies to pull out the win.
How to Watch
Coverage of tonight’s game will begin at 7pm on ESPNU. As always follow @BlackBallSports on social media for in-game highlights and analysis.