No. 6 North Carolina hosts NC Central

Nov 14, 2014 - 4:34 PM Chapel Hill, NC ( - The sixth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels open their highly-anticipated 2014-15 campaign when they play host to the NC Central Eagles on Friday night at the Smith Center.

UNC is 92-12 all-time in season-openers and has won nine straight such games. Roy Williams squad is loaded this season with veterans as well as a plethora of young talent that should elevate the Tar Heels to the top of the ACC. The team posted a 24-10 record a year ago, but a third-place finish in the ACC (13-5) is something the team hopes to improve on.

NC Central is also coming off a highly successful campaign a year ago, capturing the regular-season and tournament titles in the MEAC, going 28-6 overall and 15-1 in conference play. However, the team needs to replace MEAC Player of the Year Jeremy Ingram and his 20+ points per game. There is still a nice nucleus returning and the hope is that head coach LeVelle Moton has filled in nicely with quality transfers this season.

The Tar Heels won the only prior meeting with the Eagles, an 89-42 rout in Chapel Hill in 2009.

The Eagles were class of the MEAC last season, running away with both crowns and earning that all important spot in the NCAA Tournament, losing to third- seed Iowa State (93-75) right out of the gate. It will be difficult for NCCU to match last year however, with the departure of scoring machine Jeremy Ingram (20.5 ppg). Jordan Parks (10.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg) shot 65.9 percent from the field as the sixth-man last year and should slide into a starter's role this time around. Jay Copeland (7.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Karamo Jawara (7.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg) are both valuable players who shot 50 percent or greater from the field a season ago. Jamal Ferguson (6-5, 180) and Enoch Hood (6-9, 215) - transfers from Marquette and James Madison, respectively - will suit up after sitting out last season and can only help a squad that shined on both ends of the floor (+14.4 scoring margin). Jeremiah Ingram, a juco transfer and Nimrod Hilliard, a Lamar transfer will also be in the mix.

A looming NCAA investigation in Chapel Hill will not put a damper on the huge expectations on the Tar Heels this season. Williams' team is loaded from top to bottom and should push for ACC supremacy as a result. The 2014-15 squad is shaping up to be a much more cohesive bunch than a year ago. The backcourt will feature star guard Marcus Paige (17.5 ppg, 4.2 apg), but doesn't stop there. Nate Britt (6-1, 165) adds depth along the perimeter and the addition of McDonald's All-American Joel Berry (6-0, 188) could make the UNC backcourt special this season. Out on the wing another McDonald's All-American comes to town with tons of hype in the 6-6, 192-pound Theo Pinson, who can jump out of the building. The frontcourt has even more depth than the backcourt, starting with swingmen J.P. Tokoto (9.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and freshman Justin Jackson, yet another McDonald's All-American. Junior Brice Johnson (10.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and sophomore Kennedy Meeks (7.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg) will handle the dirty work in the paint. There simply aren't many weaknesses when sizing up the UNC roster.

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