ACC Basketball

Know Your Opponent | Northeastern Huskies

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Coming off a disastrous 15-17 season, Notre Dame turned things around this season, thanks to the return of their All-American, Jerian Grant. They left non-conference play with just once loss, but that wasn’t really saying much as the Irish got fat munching on cupcakes.

However, once in conference play, they kept it close against Virginia and managed to go on the road to beat both North Carolina and NC State, both in overtime. A home win against Duke proved to be the exclamation point to a 20-2 start. However, a few reality checks, including a loss to Pittsburgh and a 30-point defeat in the rematch against the Blue Devils, brought Notre Dame back down to earth. They ended the season 26-5, 14-4 in conference, earning the 3-seed in the ACC Tournament, but no one would say they were the favorite to win it.

Yet, after holding off Miami in the quarterfinals, the Irish upset Duke in the semifinals in convincing fashion, before rallying with a 24-2 second half run to take down North Carolina, earning their first ever conference title.

However, thanks to a low SOS, they landed in the Midwest Region as the 3-seed and will face…

WHO: Northeastern
CONFERENCE: Colonial Athletic Association
RECORD: 23-12, 12-6
RPI: #85
BPI: #123
KEN POM: #118

ADjO: #89
ADjD: #166

HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Playing a so-so non-conference schedule, the Huskies won their first four of the year, but couldn’t keep things close against Massachusetts and Harvard, also falling to Cal Poly. They challenged Saint Mary’s right before Christmas, but on New Year’s Night, they pulled off their biggest win of the year, taking down Richmond, 58-57 on the road.

In conference play, they won six of seven, taking control early, but they were never able to make another run down the stretch, going 6-5, finishing in a four-way tie for first in the conference. However, with junior Quincy Ford scoring 46 points in three days, the Huskies swept through the tournament, taking down William & Mary for the league’s automatic bid.

STARTERS
G – T.J. Williams
G – David Walker
G – Quincy Ford
F – Zach Stahl
F – Scott Eatherton

BENCH 
G – Caleb Donnelly
G – Devon Begley
F – Reggie Spencer

Offensively the Huskies can put the ball in the basket, with a solid inside-outside game. They’re 20th in the nation in eFG, capable of getting hot from deep (26th in 3P%) and know how to get to the line (53rd). Inside, Scott Eatherton is the stud. A tad bit undersized and lacking a true post game, he’s physical inside and finds ways to put the ball in the basket, unafraid to step out for a 15-foot jumper. He leads the team in points (14.6), rebounds (6.4) and blocks (a solid 1.3 attempts per game). He shoots nearly 60% from the floor and is a not-too-tragic FT shooter as well.

With Eatherton working the paint, he opens up space for the shooters. Quincy Ford and David Walker both love the deep ball, having combined for 215 attempts on the season. Ford hits 37% of his three attempts on the season, while Walker knocked down 39.4%. Ford is the more dangerous of the two though, because he’s pretty solid taking it into the paint. He’s not the greatest athlete and his ball handling skills need work, but he’s smart with the ball and knows how to work the shot fake and uses screens well.

The issue for the Huskies is that they turn it over way too much (306th in turnover%) and they struggle to force turnovers as well, despite playing mostly man-to-man defense. Five different players have committed at least 70 turnovers on the season (two per game or more). A lot of this has to do with the fact that the Huskies are not very deep. They typically only go 8-9 deep and four players play at least 30 minutes.

FINAL THOUGHT
Right now, Notre Dame is playing well. The offense has been clicking and the defense has gotten better. Expect a lot of points in this one, as both teams will put up many threes. However, look for the Irish to attack Scott Eatherton inside with both Grant and Demetrius Jackson. If the Huskies collapse in, Pat Connaughton and Steve Vasturia will light them up. In the end, Eatherton will get his points (more than 20), but the Irish will make Northeastern pay for their turnovers, while the Irish won’t make the same mistake, as five players will score in double figures.

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Notre Dame, 88-71

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