This year’s CAA season was a rollercoaster from the start, but in the end the preseason favorite will be dancing. Northeastern earned its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1991 with a 72-61 win over William & Mary, thanks to the Huskies’ hottest shooting performance of the season.
Northeastern struggled to an 11-21 record last year in large part became it lacked outside shooting, but there were signs this season would be different right from the start. David Walker and T.J. Williams improved their accuracy, while newcomers gave the Huskies new options. Rookie Devon Begley shot 48% from long range off the bench, including big shots in Sunday’s win over UNC Wilmington. Caleb Donnelly, a walk-on who was playing club ball two years ago, hit 54% and scored in double figures in the semifinals and finals.
But the Huskies’ biggest addition was a familiar face — forward Quincy Ford, who missed most of the 2013-14 season after having back surgery. Ford shot treys in high volume at a 36% clip this season, pairing that with an ability to drive from the perimeter and use his 6’8” length inside. Behind Ford’s 22 points (including four threes), Northeastern led wire to wire in the championship game, making 12 of 20 three-pointers for an effective field goal percentage of 73%.
William & Mary was on the wrong end of a Northeastern explosion before — a 75-64 loss in February, in which the Huskies scored 1.44 points per possession. As in that game, the Tribe made the score close with a late rally — a 16-0 run to pull within six points I the final minute — but their hole was too deep.
The Tribe, famously, has never made an NCAA tournament, a streak that will extend at least one more year. Fate seemed to be in their favor after a last-second, double-overtime victory over Hofstra in the semifinals, but luck ran out against the Huskies’ shooting. 2,000-point scorer Marcus Thornton, who had 20 points and five assists Monday, will finish his illustrious career in the NIT.
Northeastern, meanwhile, will taste the Big Dance for the first time in a generation. With an experienced lineup, a balanced offense and a tendency to get hot, the Huskies could be a sneaky upset pick in March.
— CAA Basketball (@CAABasketball) March 10, 2015
— Northeastern MBB (@GoNUmbasketball) March 10, 2015
As John showed yesterday, the CAA Tournament is up for grabs. Thanks to a balanced league with four co-champions, as well as the CAA’s neutral-site format, nobody won more than 26% of the 10,000 simulations, and six teams had at least a 10% chance of making the finals. Here’s the case for each of the top six seeds — and the others — heading into this evening’s first round. Continue reading
When it visited William & Mary last month, Northeastern shot 2-20 from beyond the arc, its worst performance of the season. Without those outside shots, the Huskies couldn’t keep up with the hosts’ high-powered offense, losing 74-58. But in Wednesday’s rematch at Matthews Arena, needing a win to stay in the hunt for the CAA title, Northeastern’s shooting rebounded with a vengeance. Continue reading
There’s been a lot of doom and gloom about VCU this season. The Rams are suffering from a “Final Four hangover” if you listen to the typical pundit, so of course they’re 9-3 (1-0 in the CAA) and are ranked 48th in Pomeroy. Nope, Shaka Smart has his team right where he wants them as they enter conference play. Also, the CAA is down this season. It’s a one-bid league probably. Thus, who finishes first in conference play, which starts back up January 2, is even more important.