Northeastern was one game away from appearing in the NCAA Tournament. Alabama was, most likely, two regular season wins away from being on the bubble. Instead, these two will duke it out in the first round of the NIT, looking to extend their seasons just a little longer.
The Northeastern Huskies ran the entire regular season looking like the favorites to win their conference, only to lose in the championship game to a James Madison team that seemed destined for the NCAA Tournament. On the flip side, Alabama finished fourth in their conference and fell in the second round of the SEC Tournament.
With the above knowledge, it's a little bewildering to look at the NIT bracket and see that Alabama, not Northeastern, is the number one seed in this 1-versus-8 matchup. But hey, that's the big conference bias.
However, the Huskies certainly have a chance to show the NIT what the CAA is all about tonight, as they seem to matchup well against the Crimson Tide.
Throughout their respective seasons, the Huskies average 6.6 more points and 3.3 more assists per game, and shoot 1.6 percent better from the field.
Yet, despite their low-scoring season, the Tide are a fast-paced, guard-oriented team with all three of their double-digit scorers being guards.
The matchup I'm looking forward to most, and should decide the result at the end of the night, Alabama's point guard and leading scorer, 6'0" Trevor Releford, versus Northeastern's 6'2" point guard Jonathan Lee.
Lee has two inches and five pounds on Releford, but Releford averages two more points per game than Lee and is 14.2 percent more efficient in the scoring department.
If Lee can have one of his more explosive games, he will be the catalyst for the Huskies' chances on Tuesday night. But if Releford locks down on Lee, and or uses his 4.5 fouls drawn per 40 minutes to his advantage, the Tide will probably advance in a close contest.