NC A&T vs. Liberty: Game Time, TV Schedule, Spread Info and Predictions
Barring the most insane upset the NCAA tournament has ever seen, Liberty and North Carolina A&T will go to battle in one of the tournament's play-in games for the right to get throttled by Louisville.
These two teams are the Midwest's No. 16 seed.
As we know, a No. 16 seed has never taken down a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. While there have been some close calls, and while that upset will happen sooner or later, it isn't likely to come from either of these teams.
Liberty earned this opportunity after sweeping their way through the Big South's tournament, and that was only good enough to boost their record to 15-20. This makes Liberty just the second 20-loss team to ever make the tournament.
North Carolina A&T won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference to earn their automatic bid. The Aggies will carry a 19-16 record into this game.
So, while either team has little hope to advance beyond the second round, this still shapes up to be a wonderful and exciting game, which will help us all get ready for the total madness that will ensue.
Where: Dayton, Ohio
When: Tuesday, March 19 at 6:40 p.m. ET
Listen: List of Liberty's radio affiliates
Betting Line: NC A&T -1.5 according to William Hill via vegasinsider.com on March 17
*All injury information via USA Today.
Liberty forward Antwan Burrus is out for the season with a foot injury. NC A&T has no reported injuries.
What's at Stake?
A chance to advance!
As we talked about above, there really isn't a foreseeable way for either of these teams to advance beyond just this game.
With that said, it doesn't mean this victory would be hollow. This is the biggest game, on the biggest stage, that most, if not all, of these kids will ever play—excluding, of course, the date against Louisville for the victor.
This is about these young men battling for the right to have a victorious moment attached to those memories.
Most Important Player to Watch: Aggies Forward Adrian Powell
Adrian Powell, a 6'6" senior forward, has turned in a wonderful year, and he contributes in all kinds of ways.
At 12.5 points per game, he is the team's leading scorer. He is second on the team in rebounds at 5.0 and third in assists at 1.9. As if that wasn't enough, he also leads his team in steals per game and three-point percentage.
Key Matchup: John Caleb Sanders vs. Lamont Middleton
Backcourt play is going to be key in this game, and these two men lead the way for their respective teams.
The Flames' Sanders leads his team in scoring at 14.2 per game. He really sets the pace for his team's offense, and he isn't just a scorer. He also averages 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
The Aggies' Lamont Middleton offers up similar production. He checks in at 12.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
If one of these guys gets hot, they will be able to carry their team to victory.
Prediction: Liberty 64, NC A&T 59
As their losing record tells us, the Flames had a rough year. However, they are playing their best basketball of the season and at just the right time.
Including their surprising run through the their conference tournament, the Flames have now won five straight.
I look for that new confidence and the opportunity of this game to fuel them to one of their best performances on the season.
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