Friday, March 7, 2014

Northeastern Pregame - And So it Begins

While the below is my single game preview for the first tourney game, 
I highly recommend that you view both my quick tourney preview from Monday,
as well as commenters Drachenfire and Alan Boston's comments on Tuesday's
piece, the combination of which are a great tourney preview on their own

Never before has one game pulled so hard in two very different directions.  Once again, all of the following are true:

--Northeastern starts zero seniors
--Drexel has six active players with a Kenpom O-Rating higher than 100, Northeastern just two.
--Northeastern is ranked lower than 200th in both Kenpom rankings and the RPI, Drexel is 10-3 against RPI 200 or worse teams this year
--In 12 seasons as Drexel Head Men's Basketball Coach, Bruiser Flint has won coach of the year 4 times

Looks like a landslide!  Then there's the other side of the coin:

--In 12 seasons as Drexel Head Men's Basketball Coach, Bruiser Flint's Dragon teams have won in the first round of the CAA tourney 4 times
--Northeastern is in the top 100 in the country in both getting to the line, and not putting opponents on the line, Drexel isn't in the top 100 for either and is bottom 100 for putting opponents on the line.
--Eatherton and Spencer, the big advantage that the Huskies have on the court, at the 4 and 5, struggled last game, and the Huskies still won
-- Both times these teams have faced off this year, the entire Dragon starting frontcourt has fouled out
--In 7 seasons as Northeastern Head Men's Basketball Coach, Bill Coen's teams have won in the first round of the CAA tourney 5 times

Pomeroy has Drexel as a 68% chance to win this game.  The talent level between these teams is probably greater than that.  The experience is on the side of the Dragons.  The location and number of fans in attendance will be on the side of the Dragons.  The only CAA First-Team player in this game is on the Dragons (congrats Frantz!).  This game should be, needs to be, and will unlikely be, a walk in the park.  

We can talk about the matchups, how helpful Tavon has been in guarding a long wing like David Walker (only 28% from the floor and 4 foul shots attempted in the two games against the Dragons this year), how much Dartaye Ruffin is an MVD in a game like this, and how badly he needs to stay out of foul trouble, and how we expect Chris Fouch to eat the Huskies alive, especially late in the game.  If there's one number to watch that will factor into the outcome of this game, it will be offensive rebound percentage, if Drexel can compete with NU on the boards, this should be the Dragons game to lose, which is why keeping Dartaye on the floor is so important.

At the end of the day, Drexel has their #5 and #6 all-time scorers on the floor against a team that isn't in the top 200 in college hoops.  Failure shouldn't even be in the discussion.  At the end of the day, I'll believe in one of the most clutch players Drexel has ever had wear the blue and gold, and his First Team All-CAA partner to overcome their coaches track record, in a game in which the Dragons biggest opponent may be themselves.  One of these times, Charlie Brown is going to kick that football.

Prediction:  Drexel 66, Northeastern 60
Vegas Line:  Drexel -4

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