Handling your business not always enough

Mar. 09, 2014 @ 11:45 PM

N.C. Central and Wichita State are in similar boats in the same river.

Wait, strike that.

Wichita State’s boat already is in that river, the NCAA Tournament.

NCCU is still trying to get in the water.

Both ball clubs have wrapped up highly successful regular seasons. As bodies of work go, those two squads have fantastic physiques.

Wichita State has been just perfect, turning a 31-0 regular season into a Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship.

The Shockers are 34-0. They were a sure bet for the Big Dance without winning their conference tournament.

Yet even though Wichita State is the first undefeated team entering the NCAA Tournament since Larry Johnson & Friends did it with UNLV in 1991, the Shockers’ strength of schedule is getting diminished, which may cost them the top overall seed.

Wichita State this season never made it to the top spot in the Associated Press poll. They got as high as No. 2.

On the other hand, NCCU is just trying to get in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.

The Eagles this season were nearly perfect in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, losing just one game in the league. They are 25-5 and will be the top seed in this week’s MEAC Tournament.

NCCU has been playing Division I basketball for a mere seven seasons and got its first win in school history versus an Atlantic Coast Conference team by handling business against N.C. State on Nov. 20.

In December, NCCU played tough against Wichita State. The Shockers were No. 9 in the country at the time and beat the Eagles 77-66.

There’s tons of talk this time of year about quality wins. Considering the way NCCU held its own at Wichita State, there ought to be room to explore quality losses.

As good as the Eagles have been this year, their regular-season MEAC championship did not reserve a bracket spot in the NCAA Tournament. NCCU’s league is not regarded as a power conference, so NCCU must run the table in the MEAC Tournament.

“It’s unfortunate that the NCAA doesn’t recognize a five-month grind, a five-month body of work, and it boils down to those three days in March. But it is what it is,” NCCU coach LeVelle Moton said.

The Eagles did enough during the regular season to get their boogie on in the Big Dance, Moton said.

“I would hope they would offer us an invitation despite (possibly not winning the MEAC Tournament), but I don’t know how much respect they have for us,” Moton said. “The powers that be control all of that.”

NCCU’s regular-season championship did guarantee the Eagles a space in the National Invitation Tournament.

Now, the NIT isn’t exactly a hole-in-the wall nightclub. It’s not a juke joint.

It just ain’t the Big Dance.  

“All you can do is be the best you can possibly be and win basketball games,” Moton said.

Reach John McCann @johntmccann on Twitter or by email at jmccann@heraldsun.com