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The Layup Line: North Carolina Central

An experienced team from a basketball-rich state, the Eagles of North Carolina Central have been all over the map in their first three games.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

All over the map isn't the term I'd used to describe the travel and accommodations for North Carolina Central's first three games - although they have visited the state of Nebraska already - it's the phrase I use when describing their play so far.

In their first regular season game of the year - against the nationally ranked North Carolina Tarheels - NCCU notched 60 points in a 16 point loss at Chapel Hill.

The next game? They put 123 on the College of Faith. In regulation.

And they followed that triple digit effort with a whopping 45 points against Creighton this past weekend.
  • Game: Tuesday, November 25 @ 7:00pm ET
  • Location: Fifth Third Arena; Cincinnati, OH
  • TV/Radio: Fox Sports Ohio/ESPN3; 700 WLW

So, yeah - like all over the map.

And now the Eagles of NCCU bring their inconsistent offensive output into an arena that houses a wildly inconsistent offense - at least so far.

I haven't looked up the advanced stats lately, and, frankly, it's probably too early to draw conclusions from these metrics anyway - but my eyeballs say the Bearcats' effort has been inconsistent (see: Cobb, Farad).

Last year, the Bearcats beat NCCU by double digits in Fifth Third Arena. I'm not positive that happens again this year.

For the Bearcats, this is their second game of the Emerald Coast Classic - a tournament that will continue on Friday down near Destin, Florida (the Bearcats beat Eastern Illinois in their first game of this vaunted tournament). The Bearcats will play this Friday at 5:00pm, so get your Black Friday deals early and enjoy a turkey sandwich while watching the 'Cats.

If they win that game, they'll play either Creighton or Ole Miss at 8:00pm on Saturday. If they lose, 5:00pm on Saturday.

Senior guard Anthony McDonald (#05) leads NCCU in scoring at 18.3 points a game. And he can light it up from outside. Not the biggest threat on the glass, though.

Big man Karamo Jawara (#10) is the guy you have to worry about on the glass, but he's not a big scoring threat - other than on the free throw line. Jawara averages over 9 rebounds a game but is just 7-22 from the field.

What the 'Cats have to do to win:

  • Limit Turnovers. Imagine being in the locker room Sunday night after UC's victory. I'm betting Cronin spit a few words regarding the Bearcats unnecessary turnovers. I think they'll respond Tuesday night.
  • Guard McDonald from downtown. McDonald is responsible for 58% of the Eagles three-point attempts - and he makes them at almost a 50% clip.
  • Get to the Free Throw Line. NCCU averages over 24 fouls a game so far this year. If the Bearcats are aggressive, there should be plenty of points to be had from the line.

The Cincinnati Bearcats don't have the offensive consistency to keep up with NCCU if this becomes a three-point shootout. Sure, they can - but I don't like the odds of winning that. I do, however, think they squeak out a victory. You'll see a little more focus on Tuesday night: Bearcats win 66-59.