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NC A&T Aims For Spoiler Role In NCAA Tournament

NC A & T basketball player Adrian Powell at the free throw line.
NC A&T Sports Information

NC A&T will tip it off against Liberty tonight in Dayton, OH as part of the First Four. The Aggies surprised everyone last week when they seized the MEAC championship in a 57-54 win against Morgan state.

Last year Norfolk State represented the MEAC in the NCAA Tournament. As a 15-seed the Spartans defeated 2-seed, Missouri, 86-84. It is one of only six upsets where a 15-seed knocked off a 2-seed. With a victory tonight, North Carolina A&T would meet 1-seed Louisville on Thursday. A 16-seed has never beaten a one-seed.

Liberty last appeared in the NCAA Tournament in 2004, and they are only the second team in history to go to the Tournament with 20 losses. The first was Coppin State in 2008, who lost their first game.

At the beginning of the MEAC Tournament last week, the Aggies were seeded seventh. Their losing record (15-16) and their roller coaster season – beating Eastern Kentucky, but losing to the worst MEAC team, SC State – made it difficult to predict their performance going in. But they stunned everyone when they overturned Morgan State with a 57-54 victory to claim the conference title on March 16. It’s their first MEAC championship since 1995, and their 16th in the college’s history. They have been MEAC champs more than any other college in the conference.

Senior Austin Witter had 11 points in the championship game and earned the MEAC defensive player of the year.  Adrian Witter, also a senior, led the team in scoring with 14 points, and earned MEAC tournament MVP.  Powell told NC A&T Sports Information "There were times this year when no one believed in us but us. Coach just kept telling us to stay together and keep believing in one another."

Coach Cy Alexander leads the league with the most MEAC Tournament wins (31). Before he joined NC A&T, he coached Tennessee State for six seasons, but never led them to the NCAA Tournament.  This is his first year as head coach with NC A&T and his sixth MEAC championship title.

In their nine previous NCAA Tournament appearances, NC A&T has never won a game.

Laura moved from Chattanooga to Chapel Hill in 2013 to join WUNC as a web producer. She graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in the spring of 2012 and has created radio and multimedia stories for a variety of outlets, including Marketplace, Prairie Public, and Maine Public Broadcasting. When she's not out hunting stories, you can usually find her playing the fiddle.
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