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Previewing Northeastern: Veteran Huskies will be tough out for NC State

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 7 p.m. ET, Tuesday, Dec. 29

TV: RSN (Fox Sports) -- affiliates

Online streamingESPN3

Radio: Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Northeastern vitals

Record: 8-4
RPI: 90
Pomeroy ranking: No. 90
Best win***: 78-77 over Miami (FL) (KenPom No. 11)
Worst loss: 67-61 to Miami (OH) (KenPom No. 205)

(***Best win or loss based on opponent's Pomeroy Rating, not the scoring margin.)

Adjusted tempo: 68.3 poss/40 minutes (ranks 251st)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 106.9 (ranks 81st)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 100.3 (ranks 133rd)

Northeastern roster
Northeastern schedule
Northeastern stats 2015 2016

The Northeastern offense and starters

NU Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 54.5 (19) 21.5 (308) 30.1 (197) 41.4 (66)
2015-16 52.4 (75) 19.9 (251) 30.3 (172) 39.4 (113)

Northeastern turned a corner last season after eight years of purgatory under head coach Bill Coen by reaching the NCAA tournament. The Huskies rolled through the CAA tournament to get there, denying William & Mary its first NCAA trip in the process. They went on to put a scare into Notre Dame and came up just a bit short.

That was a pretty good team. This one is better. Northeastern brought back four key contributors from last season, and while the Huskies did lose their leading scorer, they've been no worse for wear. They're loaded with veteran players, which always helps in a transition, even if this one was relatively minor.

Northeastern's focal point in 2015 was 6-8 forward Scott Eatherton, who was very effective in the paint but didn't have range. Now that he's gone, the Huskies are looking significantly more perimeter oriented. Their three-point attempt rate is way up from last year--over 40 percent--and that's going swell so far since NU is hitting 38.5% from deep.

One of the first things I look at with a jump shooting team is the size it brings to the perimeter. If the guards are all short, I tend not to worry so much. And then when I see 6-6 or 6-8 guys shooting 40% or better, I go into a fetal position for a few minutes. Northeastern is the latter case, by the way.

Both David Walker (6-6) and Quincy Ford (6-8) are hitting better than 40% from three. Those shooting percentages are better than their career averages, but they aren't exactly flukes. Those guys are good shooters and tough matchups in general. The Huskies will get shooting production from elsewhere as well, but Walker and Ford will do the bulk of the work. This is another contest where the Martin twins might be extra important.

Northeastern's offense is like NC State's polar opposite, with outside shooting its lone clear strength. The Huskies don't really do anything else well (other than make free throws). NC State's been doing just about everything well, except shooting.

The Huskies will rely primarily on four seniors and a junior, which is plenty worrisome in this type of game. The good news is that Northeastern has little reliable depth. Walker, like Cat Barber, spends a ton of time on the floor out of necessity. Cat and Walker are sixth and seventh nationally in percentage of team minutes played.

That means the officiating could have a significant impact on the course of this game. Along with the teams' three-point shooting, of course.


T.J. Williams (6-3, 201) -- Williams tends not to be a major part of the offense, and that's fine since he's never been much of a shooter ... from anywhere on the floor. This year he's been especially bad, as he's 10-24 from the free throw line, 11-31 from two, and 4-17 from three. He's got a good assist rate, but he's also prone to turnovers.

David Walker (6-6, 196) -- The only thing more ridiculous than Walker's stat line is the fact that he doesn't control a larger portion of the offense. He takes about 25% of the team's shots, but that's second to Quincy Ford, who is not nearly as efficient. Walker is seeing a rim the size of a large and garish above-ground pool, apparently. He's shooting 53.5% inside the arc, 45.8% from three, and 85.1% at the free throw line. He's averaging almost 20 points per game. Real good player.

Zach Stahl (6-5, 215) -- As much as I joke about guys who don't have any self-awareness when it comes to their weaknesses, it's only fair to laud a player who makes adjustments. Stahl attempted 35 threes over his first two college seasons, making only nine. He did not attempt a single three in his junior season, and hasn't taken one this year. His focus on the interior is paying off--his 2FG% is much improved. Good rebounder for his height, too.

Quincy Ford (6-8, 225) -- It's nice to have a big man who can shoot. Ford is a career 35.8% three-point shooter (40.5% this year) and 74.7% free throw shooter. He is a below-average scorer inside the arc. Good defensive rebounder. He will block some shots and steal some steals.

Jeremy Miller (6-10, 232) -- Miller is shooting well from two and from three (in limited minutes), so I'd say his freshman campaign is going okay so far. No idea what to expect from the kid going forward, but so far: going okay. He's an excellent offensive rebounder as well.

The Northeastern bench and defense

Reserves: Caleb Donnelly (6-1, 181), Kwesi Abakah (6-8, 212), Devon Begley (6-4, 186). Donnelly does a nice job as a secondary scorer, with most of his attempts coming from beyond the arc. Begley has a better career 3FG% (36.0) than 2FG% (35.6). Abakah is a warm body with five fouls what for givin', but that's about it.

NU Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2014-15 49.8 (204) 15.5 (338) 25.3 (10) 25.0 (6)
2015-16 53.3 (290) 18.4 (184) 24.1 (19) 26.5 (27)

Opponents have been raining buckets on Northeastern, from inside and out. The Huskies' interior defense is allowing opponents to make 51.9% of their two-point attempts, which is good for 268th nationally. The national average on two-point shots is 48.4%.

Opponents are also shooting 37.7% from beyond the arc, which is far less meaningful given the volatility of the outside shot, but still instructive to some degree. I don't think there is a lot of quickness on this roster since they aren't much for blocking shots or generating steals.

Over the last two seasons they've lived off of their ability to avoid fouls and grab a whole lot of the shots their opponents do miss. They will be tested in both of those areas by NC State's offense.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by five.