Tiny Dancers: Northeastern goes dancing for the first time in 24 years

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Northeastern returns to the Big Dance after a 24-year absence. (USATSI)
Northeastern returns to the Big Dance after a 24-year absence. (USATSI)

Northeastern, under coach Bill Coen, is going dancing for the first time in 24 years.

The Huskies overall have the best resume of any team in the CAA, and they got to the Dance by using a barrage of early 3s to survive an insane late push from William & Mary 72-61 in the CAA Championship. Overall, Northeastern dropped 12 3s, including four each from Quincy Ford and Caleb Donnelly. At some point, you have to feel bad for the snakebit Tribe, who have never made the Big Dance and moved to 0-9 in NCAA Tournament-clinching games, but at least we get one nice success story about a team returning the Big Dance after a long absence in Northeastern.

Since having beaten Florida State to start its season, Northeastern has done a pretty solid job of staying the course and doing its job. The Huskies shoot well all over the floor, and get excellent ball movement from their offense. They struggle with turnovers on both sides of the ball though, and that could be their undoing when push comes to shove. But for now, the Huskies are worth celebrating as a great success story that has done well over the last few years.

Player to know: Senior forward Scott Eatherton transferred to Northeastern three years ago following two years at St. Francis (PA), and has morphed into one of the best players in the CAA. His 24.8 PER was third in the conference this year, as he finished fifth in the league in scoring at 14.6 points per game, fourth in rebounding at 6.4 per game, and third in blocks at 1.3 per. He’s also extremely efficient, with a career 62.6 true-shooting percentage. All of this led to Eatherton being named first-team all-CAA and all-defense CAA this season, as he’s clearly the motor that keeps this engine churning on both ends.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 23-11 overall, 12-6 in the CAA
  • Most recent tournament appearance: All the way back in 1991, when the Huskies were a 16-seed and dropped a game to North Carolina 101-66.
  • Jerry Palm predicts: 15 seed
  • RPI: 96
  • KenPom ranking: 124
  • Sagarin ranking: 125
  • Best wins: vs. Florida State, at Richmond
  • Worst losses: at Elon, at Drexel, vs. Delaware
  • Notable stat: 21.3/15.7. The Huskies turn the ball over on 21.3 percent of their offensive possessions, which is in the bottom 20 percent of the country, and only force turnovers on 15.7 percent of their defensive possessions, which is in the bottom five percent of the country. Not great, and they’ll need to do better in order to succeed against the bigger opponents.
  • Closing quip: While the turnovers on both sides of the ball are a legitimate problem, the Huskies have proven this season that they’re unafraid to go up against bigger conference opponents. Plus, with a reasonably young team that will return a lot next season, this Tournament appearance should set the table for an even better run in 2015-16. Hopefully that next Tournament appearance will come much sooner than the 24 years they had to wait to get back this time around.

>> Want more college hoops? Top 25 (and one) | Bracketology

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