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The Northeastern Huskies might have taken the spot slated for Hofstra out the CAA, but they are just fine with that after upsetting the Pride in the conference title game to land the 13-seed at the Midwest Regional in Salt Lake City, UT.
The Huskies will do battle with the 4th seeded Kansas Jayhawks, who have certainly provided the fans in Lawrence a disappointing campaign with no regular season title or conference tourney trophy to show for their efforts under head coach Bill Self this season.
Northeastern has won 12 of their last 13 games headed into the big dance, which obviously includes their run through the CAA Tournament title after upsetting Hofstra, who won the regular season race but fell short to land in the NIT.
The Jayhawks may not have had one of their most impressive campaigns under head coach Bill Self this season, but a trip to the Big 12 Conference Tournament title game might instill some confidence for a program that had much higher expectations that 4th place in the conference standings and no banners to raise.. Yet!
The Jayhawks arrive to Salt Lake City favored by a touchdown over the Huskies, and the line setters have issued a 144.5 on this total.
Huskies Out To Show They Were The Best CAA Team To Begin With
The Huskies only finished one game behind Hofstra in the CAA regular season standings, so taking their 2-seed to the conference tournament title might not be as surprising to them as it was to some of us.
Anatomy of an Upset: Why you shouldn't count out the No. 13 seed Huskies!
— #CAAChamps (@GoNUmbasketball) March 18, 2019
Now that Hofstra was sent to the NIT, the Huskies have to show the rest of the country that they can represent the Colonial Athletic Association with pride as they face a Big 12 opponent long from home.
(You like that, Pride? Get it, Hofstra.. Thanks, I’ll be here all tourney long for your reading pleasure LOL)
The Huskies have taken 12 wins from their last 13 games which, obviously, includes a trophy from the CAA Tourney run, so they are the ones on the court between these two that actually has something to show for the season. Unlike Kansas, who fell short with a 4th place finish in Big 12 play and a loss in their conference tourney finale to Iowa State as well.
That won’t shake the Jayhawks a bit though, so Northeastern better be prepared for an entirely different animal then what they’ve faced in CAA play.
“You have to come to play, and we’re going to make sure we’re prepared to play.”
Hey #HowlinHuskies fans, today’s the day!
— #CAAChamps (@GoNUmbasketball) March 21, 2019
Coen was quoted on the Northeastern home page after the draw was announced for the tournament, stating, “When we got together as a group our first meeting, we played a little video; basically, the theme was “keep standing”, because life comes at you different ways. And I think that’s what this team did, all year long, they just kept standing. Guys played through flu, illnesses, bumps and bruises, everybody just managed to kind of… stay in there and keep standing. And today proves it’s all worth it.”
Pusica averaged 17.9 PPG last year and took in 17.8 PPG this year, and he shot 50% from the floor over two seasons as well, which is pretty damn good in case you missed it, and he buried 40% of his shots from behind the arc this year too. The Belgrade, Serbia native missed 6 games in December, but ended the year finding double-digits in all 21 of his last 21 games, with 21 points against Hofstra to help land them the hardware in the title game.
Pusica does not want to go out in the first round so he doesn’t want to make his first tournament a short one.
“It means everything,” said Pusica. “As I already said, coming over from Serbia, I had a goal to make the NCAA tournament and being here six years, watching it here and to know what it means to people, it is followed all over the world. And I didn’t really want to finish my career without making it here at least once.”
Junior guard Jordan Roland averaged 14.7 PPG and he also shot over 40% from distance on a Huskies squad that shot 38.8% from behind the arc this year ranking them 38th in the country, while their 48.2% from the floor puts them ranked at 22nd in the land.
Jayhawks Looking To Put Past Behind And Prove It Wasn’t A Down Year!
The Jayhawks find themselves in a bit of unfamiliar territory as a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament despite winning 25-games, a we are used to seeing them with a much higher seed over recent years.
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) March 18, 2019
Coach Bill Self is making his 21st consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, a run that began in 1998 when he was still coaching at Tulsa with this being the 16th straight appearance with Kansas.
Coach Self was quoted on the team page when the seeding were announced, stating, “I’ve been doing this a really long time — it’s a two game tournament — that’s it — it’s a two game tournament and we have to be really, really our best this weekend, this Thursday and Saturday.”
The Jayhawks averaged 75.4 PPG this season which has them sitting at 106th in the country, while their 69.7% from the free throw line puts them all the way back at 204th in the land, which certainly contributed to some of the struggles for Kansas this year.
The defense allowed 70.1 PPG which ranks them 146th in the country, and that goes along with the 33.6% allowed to opponents behind the arc 135th and some struggles on the defensive glass which leaves Kansas ranked 244th in the land consuming only 32.9 DRBG).
As most of you may know, when Udoka Azubuike went down for the season for Kansas, if affected everyone and everything around the Jayhawk program, and they recovered without him to an extent, but no one can fully recover from a loss as big as his was.
Azubuike only played in 9 games this year before the hand injury in practice cost him the season, and was a 13 & 7 guy at the time he went down with all that 7-1 size gone in the paint too.
Dedric Lawson ended up carrying the load for Kansas, ending the year leading the team with 19.1 PPG and 10.3 RBG, giving him that honor of being called a double-double guy for the year.
Lagerald Vick (14.1) and Devon Dotson (12.1) also averaged double-digits for the Hawks, as the tandem in the back-court eat up a bunch of minutes along with Quentin Grimes, although Vick is set to miss out on the Tourney with a personal matter, which isn’t good for Coach Self needing depth.
• Under is 3-0-1 in Jayhawks last 4 Thursday games.
• Under is 7-1 in Jayhawks last 8 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite of 7.0-12.5.
• Under is 3-0-1 in Jayhawks last 4 Thursday games.
• Huskies are 6-0-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
• Huskies are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 Thursday games.
• Under is 6-2 in Huskies last 8 games following a ATS win.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
No Azubuike we are used to, but now no Vick too? Kansas will have some trouble with Northeastern today, so this 7-point line seems fair enough to me, because the Huskies will more than hang around with the Jayhawks, and indeed prove their worth in the big dance.
Prediction: Huskies +7
Full-Game Total Pick
Nope, it’s too high baby, so when you see this game end 71 – 68, you know you cashed your ticket on Northeastern to cover the 7, and the under that came with it!
Prediction: Under 144.5