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NC Central (28-5) vs. Iowa State (26-7)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, March 21, 9:50 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: AT&T Center (18,581) -- San Antonio, Texas. Television: TNT. NCAA Record: NC Central 0-0, Iowa State 14-15. Series Record: First-ever meeting.

GAME NOTES: Fresh off their first Big 12 Conference title in more than a decade, the third-seeded Iowa State Cyclones will begin work in the NCAA Tournament's East Region when they take on the 14th-seeded North Carolina Central Eagles on Friday night.

Iowa State is riding a four-game win streak into the NCAA Tournament, having vanquished Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas and Baylor, who are all NCAA Tournament qualifiers, en route to the Big 12 conference championship. The Cyclones' last Big 12 title came in 2000, when the team made a run to the Elite Eight.

NC Central, in just its fourth season at the Division I level, has been red hot down the stretch, with wins in 20 straight games, including a 71-62 triumph over Morgan State in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament championship game. That final triumph earned the Eagles their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

This game marks another first for NC Central, which has never faced Iowa State. The team that survives this meeting will advance to battle either sixth-seeded North Carolina or 11th-seeded Providence in the next round on Sunday.

Jeremy Ingram poured in a game-high 29 points and NC Central limited Morgan State to just 37.9 percent shooting to claim the MEAC Tournament crown on March 15. The Eagles only had six field goals in the final 20 minutes, but they sank 25-of-30 attempts at the free-throw line to escape with the win.

NC Central's run through the MEAC was no fluke. The Eagles led the conference in a number of categories this season, both on offense and defense, including scoring (73.9 ppg), assists (14.7 apg), scoring defense (58.5 ppg), assists allowed (9.3 apg) and opponent field goal percentage (.373). Ingram (20.6 ppg) is the most prominent scorer on the roster, with 18 20-point efforts this season, including five in which he had at least 30. Jordan Sparks gives the team a boost off the bench (10.2 ppg), and Emanuel Chapman (6.8 ppg, 6.4 apg) is a strong distributor.

DeAndre Kane led five players in double figures with 17 points to go with seven assists, as Iowa State claimed the Big 12 title with a 74-65 win over Baylor. The Cyclones hit an even 50 percent from the floor in the contest and held a 38-28 edge on the glass.

The Eagles may have been the best offensive team in the MEAC this season, but they barely register a blip on the radar compared to Iowa State. The Cyclones are netting an incredible 82.9 ppg, which ranks fifth in the country, while dishing out the most assists (18.5 apg) of any team at the Division I level. Melvin Ejim (18.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg) has been tremendous this season, using his size to score from all over the court, while also attacking the glass. His efforts were rewarded when he was named Big 12 Player of the Year. Kane (17 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 5.8 apg) could easily have received the award as well, as he stuffs the stat sheet. The wealth of talent doesn't stop there with Georges Niang (16.5 ppg) and Dustin Hogue (10.7 ppg) providing depth.

Ejim and Kane are one of the most feared offensive duos in the country. They are no match for most teams and NC Central, which is too reliant on Ingram, is just another victim.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Iowa State 89, NC Central 66

03/21 10:35:04 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
WIN 3
CAR 1
Final
KAN 1
SFG 7
8:07pm Tonight
KAN
SFG
 
Final
MIA 90
HOU 85
Final
MIN 107
IND 89
Final
OKC 91
UTA 105
Final
DEN 75
POR 93
4th
LAL 82
PHO 86
 
Half
GSW 62
LAC 60
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
HOU
 
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
BRK
 
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
WAS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
CLE
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIL
MIN
 
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
ATL
 
10:00pm Tonight
LAL
POR
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
PHO
 
4th
LALAF 55
ARKST 40
 
Final
NJD 3
NYR 4
Final
BOS 5
SJS 3
Final
NYI 2
TOR 5
Final
MON 2
DET 1
Final
NAS 4
ARI 3
Final
WIN 3
CAR 1
Final
CHI 4
PHI 0
Final
DAL 6
VAN 3
Final
COL 3
FLA 4
Final
CAL 1
TAM 2
7:00pm Tonight
OTT
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
PIT
PHI
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
WAS
 
10:30pm Tonight
ANA
BUF