Like most coaches, LeVelle Moton could care less about preseason polls.
After all, it’s not how you start but where you finish.
Still, with that being said, North Carolina Central men’s basketball has been picked to finish fourth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Senior forward Patrick Cole has been named to the preseason all-conference team.
The Eagles ended last season 12-19 after a second-round loss in the MEAC Tournament.
“With all due respect, I don’t pay those polls any mind,” Moton said last Wednesday on a MEAC teleconference.
“We are all 13 dogs chasing one bone, and when the ball goes up on Nov. 11, no one will care who finished where in the preseason.”
Howard was voted the preseason No. 1 for the first time in more than 30 years, followed by South Carolina State and last season’s tourney champion Hampton at No. 3.
Over on the women’s side, the Lady Eagles were picked to end up last. Coming off a 5-23 season, Coach Vanessa Taylor enters her fourth year at NCCU.
Archrival N.C. A&T is the preseason top pick. The Lady Aggies won their first tournament title under coach Tarrell Robinson. They lost to Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Aggies-Eagles football going national
The Nov. 19 regular-season finale between NCCU and A&T football teams will be streamed live on ESPN3 and later rebroadcast on ESPNU.
The MEAC made the announcement last week, to no one’s surprise. The league always had an extra TV game on that date, but had left it open for the best matchup available.
Aggies vs. Eagles is always the best. You’ve got one of the top rivalries in all of college football, a large and devoted fan base on both sides, two outstanding marching bands, and two coaches who don’t particularly care for each other.
And let’s not forget NCCU coach Jerry Mack’s prognostication this summer at an alumni meeting.
“I’ve never lied to you. I told you we’d have a chance to win championships, graduate players and run a first-class program in the MEAC. I really believe deep down that we are going to three-peat and beat A&T for a third time,” he said.
With South Carolina State losing on Saturday, NCCU and A&T are the only undefeated conference teams left.
Coming off a bye week, the Eagles (6-2, 5-0) will travel to Delaware State (0-8, 0-5) on Saturday, while the Aggies (7-1, 5-0) host S.C. State (3-4, 3-1).
The MEAC champion goes on to the Air Force Celebration Bowl in December, but the conference can still earn a NCAA FCS playoff at-large berth.
N.C. A&T is ranked No. 12 in the latest STATS FCS Media Poll and No. 11 in the NCAA FCS Coaches Poll.
MEAC Women’s Basketball
Predicted order of finish
1, N.C. A&T State. 2, Bethune- Cookman. 3, Hampton. 4, Maryland Eastern Shore. 5, Morgan State. 6, Florida A&M. 7, Coppin State. 8, Savannah State. 9, Howard. 10, South Carolina State. 11, Delaware State. 12, Norfolk State. 13, North Carolina Central.
MEAC Men’s Basketball
Predicted order of finish
1, Howard. 2, South Carolina State. 3, Hampton. 4, North Carolina Central. 5, Norfolk State. 6, Bethune-Cookman. 7, N.C. A&T State. 8, Maryland Eastern Shore. 9, Morgan State. 10, Coppin State. 11, Savannah State. 12, Delaware State. 13, Florida A&M.