Northern Kentucky swept through the Horizon league tournament to give the school their first ever NCAA tournament appearance. An impressive feat, considering that less than five years ago they were a D-II program.
Northern Kentucky is a very solid rebounding team. Lead by scoring forward Drew McDonald (averaging 7.7 rebounds per game), the Norse rank 54th in all of college basketball for team rebounding rate. They have five players averaging over three boards per game. They will no doubt hound the boards in the tournament as well.
The Norse also run a very deep squad. Ten players on the team have played in at least 24 games this season, and ten players also average double digit minutes. Against Illinois early in the season, Northern Kentucky played a remarkable 13 men. This should give them an edge over other teams that have less personnel to work with and protect them from foul trouble.
Free throws have been a dagger in the side of the Norse all season long. Seven of their losses have been by ten points or less, and in those seven losses they averaged 56% from the line. Northern Kentucky ranks 270th in free throw percentage this season. In a close game where free throw shooting could keep them alive, they could struggle.
The Norse also struggle to defend strong perimeter players. In their loss @ Illinois, Illini guard Malcolm Hill dropped 40 points on 57% shooting. In their loss against Austin Peay went off for 31 points on 69% shooting. In their loss against North Carolina Central, Eagles guard scored 32. If they want to succeed in the tournament, Northern Kentucky will have to stop elite guards from scoring the basketball at will.
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