11 December 2009

Better Know an Opponent: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

If ever there were a time to abbreviate an opponent this is it! The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University ("NCATS") Aggies invade the Welsh this Sunday December 13 at 4pm Central. The game will be streamd online at bigtennetwork.com (available for $2.99) and rebroadcast on the BTN at 10pm.

NCAT Quick Facts:
Location: Greensboro, NC
Official Nickname: Aggies
Unofficial Nickname: Fightin' NCATS

(No, not this "NCAT")

(This "NCATS")

Coach: Jerry Eaves (sixth year)
Team Colors: Blue & Gold
Conference: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference ("MEAC") -- the NCATs are one of six founding members of the 40 year old conference
Student Population: 10.3K
Most Famous Alum: Jesse Jackson (what is it with all these religious affiliations/figureheads for NU opponents?!?!?!)

NCATS was founded in 1891 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race (holy time warp batman!). Today NCATS is the largest publicly funded historic black college in North Carolina (just how many publicly funded historic black colleges are there in NC?). The NCATS' claim to fame is that it produces black engineers in record numbers (and flamboyant religious figures).

The NCATS were predicted to finish right in the middle of MEAC this year. So far these predictions don't look far off as the team is (4-5) though the NCATS did pull off an OT win in their first conference tilt at Norfolk State, the predicted #3 MEAC team.

Projected Starting Five:

G Tavarus Alston 6'0" 170 #3 Sr.
G Nic Simpson 6'3" 190 #12 So.
F Robert Johnson 6'6" 200 #34 Sr.
F DaMetrius Upchurch 6'7" 210 #33 Fr.
F/C Thomas Coleman 6'9" 235 #23 Jr.

The NCATS probably have the sixth man of the MEAC award sewed up already as 6'2" senior guard Dwane (no typo) Joshua leads the NCATs in scoring (16.7 PPG), 3FG% (40.8% on 20-49 shooting), and is second on the team in minutes (29.3 MPG). Carmody Court surmises the reason "No Typo" doesn't start is that he doesn't seem very versatile (only 8 assists in 6 games) nor does he value the roundball (15 turnovers to 6 steals). Tavarus Alston has emerged as another offensive presence for the NCATs as he has led the team in scoring in the past two games.

The NCATS may feel at home in the Welsh environs with NU students on break. Their average home attendance has been approximately 2K and have played before about 4K people on the road. Like most smaller conference teams at this time of year the NCATS are road warriors (6 of 9 games away from Greensboro).

NU stands to be the NCATS' best competition to date (losses to Marshall, UTEP, and Ohio are their only notable games). The NCATS greatest strength per Pomeroy is ball protection (ranked 27 in turnovers), and their inside presence is solid on defense (ranked 71 in block% and 119 in 2P%). Then again these stats are skewed by a pretty weak strength of schedule.

What to expect? In this sort of mismatch no in-depth analysis is necessary (fortunately so since info on the NCATs is scarce). Anything short of a blowout and an emptying of NU's bench would be a disappointment and begin to diminish the buzz that has come from NU's last three games in which NU handed BCS conference teams their first losses of the young season.