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Everything you probably didn’t want to know about Northeastern

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Kansas takes on Northeastern in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Northeastern v Notre Dame Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It’s March Madness, and that generally means it’s time for your team to play someone you’ve never heard of, or at least, know nothing about. That said, let’s take a peek at Northeastern, who will take on your Kansas Jayhawks in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Minutae

Location: Boston, MA

Nickname: Huskies

Mascot: Paws

Paws, a Siberian Husky, debuted as the school’s official mascot in 1927 after the school adopted the “Huskies” nickname. Northeastern used live mascots until 1989, although the tradition was revived in 2005. The original Paws came to Boston by train from Alaska, a descendant Nonook of Marly, the lead dog on Leonard Seppala’s famous team that rushed diptheria vaccines 645 miles to Nome in 1925 to save the plagued town.

This contrasts slightly with the Jayhawkers, who were basically gangs from Kansas who fought against pro-slavery factions from Missouri in the 1850s, prior to the onset of the Civil War.

League: Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)

Established: 1898

Enrollment: 25,466 (2016)

Acceptance Rate: 28.5% (2016)

SB Nation Blog: Nope

Cool Tradition: Rub the nose of the Husky statue in Ell Hall, and it is said that your fortunes are sure to rise.

Better than KU in football? Nope! Citing sparse attendance, losing seasons, and facing an expensive renovation of their football stadium, Northeastern ceased football operations following the 2009 season. The Huskies were just 8-26 over their final three seasons of competition, although, it should be noted they ended on a two-game winning streak.

Series History

Kansas and Northeastern have never met in men’s basketball.

Record

23-10, 14-4 2nd CAA

Northeastern was overwhelmingly picked to finish first in the preseason media poll after returning all five starters from last year’s squad, but finished one game behind Hofstra in the regular season.

Last time out: Defeated Hofstra 82-74 in the CAA Tournament championship game.

The Huskies have won 7 games in a row and 12 of their last 13.

2017-2018 Record: 23-10, 14-4

Head Coach

The Huskies are coached by Bill Coen, who is 224-196 in his 13th year at the helm of Northeastern. This is his first head coaching job at the NCAA level. He was previously an assistant coach under Al Skinner at Boston College and Rhode Island.

How scary are they?

On a scale of 1-10, maybe a 4? There’s enough there to make the rational fan nervous. KenPom has Northeastern’s win probably at 23% and predicts a 76-68 Kansas victory.

The Huskies are currently ranked #79 by KP. They are the #5 team in the country in Effective FG%. Northeastern takes over 46% of their shots from behind the arc and they are the #14 team in the country in 3-point percentage.

They are one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the country, however, so they generally get just one shot each possession.

Common Opponents: Eastern Michigan, Vermont

Kansas beat Eastern Michigan 87-63 at home; Northeastern beat EMU 81-67 at home.

Kansas beat Vermont 84-68 at home; Northeastern lost to Vermont 75-70 on the road.

Other Games of Interest: Northeastern has three top-100 wins per KenPom, beating Alabama and Hofstra (x2). They also have three sub-200 losses: Boston University, Delaware, and Towson.

They weren’t very competitive against the two best teams on their schedule, losing to Virginia Tech 88-60 and losing to Syracuse 72-49. It should be noted that Northeastern played without three starters against Syracuse, including leading scorer Vasa Pusica. In the loss against Virginia Tech, Pusica was just 2-10 from the field, but in the win over Alabama, he was 6-10, including 4-4 from three.

Three Man Weave

  1. Kansas has had an issue all year long with turnovers, giving the ball up on 18.7% of its possessions. Northeastern isn’t great at forcing turnovers, although they are a top-150 team in terms of steal percentage. Regardless, it would be immensely beneficial for the Jayhawks to do something that they’ve struggled with all year - value each and every possession.
  2. Northeastern is a sub-250 team when it comes to a variety of defensive statistics, including 2-point percentage and block percentage. Northeastern doesn’t appear to have anybody who will match up very well with Dedric Lawson (or David McCormack for that matter), so those guys should own the paint and be in for big games.
  3. Northeastern will bomb away from behind the arc, and this game could quickly become a shootout if they’re making their threes. I’m not sure they have anyone who can stay in front of Devon Dotson; Will KU be willing to attempt to run the Huskies out of the gym?

Yet Another Wrong Prediction

On paper, this looks like a terrible matchup for KU - a team that takes (and makes) a lot of threes. KU’s defensive profile isn’t as bad as you probably think; we’re just spoiled after having 10 years of one and two-seeds. KU needs to figure out a way to stay in front of Northeastern’s shooters, or they will make open looks and spring a first round upset.

However, I’m gonna bet on Bill Self with four days to prepare for an opponent. It may be close for a half or even 30 minutes, but I look for lots of easy looks inside for Kansas - maybe even a dunk from Dedric Lawson - and for KU to end up with a relatively comfortable first round win, 82-68.