Miami Hurricanes NIT First Round Game Preview: North Carolina Central Eagles


Location: BankUnited Center, Coral Gables, Florida

Time: 7:00 PM EST


Line: Miami -9.5

This isn’t exactly what we expected to be writing about when the basketball season tipped-off in November. The Miami Hurricanes are not in the big dance, they are, however, playing some meaningful basketball in the National Invitational Tournament.

Miami being left off the tournament isn’t much of a surprise due to the teams lack of quality wins, but some of the teams that made it ahead of the Canes made it that much tougher to swallow. Teams like Georgia and UCLA are not better than Miami, but we’ll leave that for another day.

The Hurricanes not only were left off the NCAA tournament, but they weren’t even one of the first four teams out, therefore they were not awarded a one-seed in the NIT tournament. Miami, however, will start their road to Madison Square Garden as a number two seed.

Miami’s tournament run begins at the BankUnited Center against North Carolina Central.

North Carolina Central Scouting Report

North Carolina Central is an intriguing team in this tournament. The Eagles went undefeated in conference play in the MEAC this season, but fell to Delaware State in the tournament. Even in a conference as terrible as the MEAC, winning 16 straight games in the regular season is quite an accomplishment.

How did they do it?

Well, NC Central ranks 10th in the country in field goal percentage at 48 percent. That’s a good way to get some wins, right? The Eagles also move the ball around efficiently, as they come in at number 73 in the country dishing out 14 dimes a game.

The numbers do look good for NC Central, but they also play teams like Howard and Savannah State (two teams Miami destroyed). Kenpom’s rankings aren’t so kind to the Eagles, as Ken Pomeroy has them ranked at 109 this season. The Hurricanes have played 15 teams this season with a better Kenpom ranking than the Eagles.

Jordan Parks is the unquestioned leader of LeVelle Moton’s team. Parks is a 6’7” senior forward that shoots 65% from the floor, en route to 15.3 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game. Parks was a first-team All-MEAC selection this season, but he wasn’t alone.

Nimrod Hilliard (yes, that’s his name), is the point guard for the Eagles, and he led the team with 6.4 assists per game this season for NC Central. Hilliard also finished third on the team with 11.8 points per game on 48 percent shooting.

Anthony McDonald is the other player to watch out for on the NC Central roster. McDonald is a shooter, and that’s what he’s going to do. Shoot. McDonald took 323 shots this season and 270 of those came from beyond-the-arc. The senior guard shot 38 percent from three this season, which is good, considering the amount of attempts he had.


Miami 71 – NC Central 58

Everything above is all nice from NC Central, but Miami should win this game and they should do it easily. The Eagles have a good team, but they just don’t match up against Miami. The Eagles want to beat you with their guards, but so does Miami. And there’s no chance in hell that NC Central’s guards are better than the Hurricane guards.

NC Central will have a tough time dealing with Tonye Jekiri, as their tallest player is junior Nate Maxey, but he’s not necessarily the most talented person on the team. Jekiri should ease into another double-double, and the Hurricanes should get it done at home and advance to the NIT sweet 16.