When the Northeastern Huskies secured their first Colonial Athletic Association regular season title since joining the conference in 2005, head coach Bill Coen and company received an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament if they could win the CAA Tournament. Having lost to James Madison in the tournament championship game, the Huskies are now headed to the NIT as an 8-seed and they will play No. 1 seed Alabama on Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.
This will be Northeastern’s third postseason appearance in five seasons and second NIT appearance in the last five years, all under Coen.
“One of our goals each season is to advance to postseason play, so we’re excited to participate in the NIT,” said Coen. “The NIT berth extends what has been a special season and gives us an opportunity to compete in a tournament and for a championship.”
They’re opening round matchup against the Crimson Tide will be in Tuscaloosa, which is the hometown of starting forward, Reggie Spencer. Spencer averaged 9.8 points and 6.1 assists for the Huskies this season, but he will need to really step up against Bama’s depth in the frontcourt.
The Tide will start a 7-0 center in Moussa Gueye, and bring two big forwards off the bench, consistently. Gueye only averages 15.5 minutes per game for the Tide this season, but he could be effective against a smaller Huskies team. Spencer, and frontcourt mate Quincy Ford, will all have their hands full with the Tide’s pair of 6-8 bench forwards, Nick Jacobs and Devonta Pollard.
Offensive rebounding has been a problem all season for the Huskies, and the Dukes capitalized on that weakness in the CAA Championship game. Northeastern yielded eight second-chance points to JMU off of seven offensive rebounds and throughout CAA regular season play, the Huskies yielded 12.4 offensive rebounds per game.
Thus, if the Huskies can keep the Tide off the offensive glass, they might have a chance to make some noise and convert a huge upset victory.