UTEP, Northeastern Battle For Berth in CBI Semifinals
March 20, 2009
UTEP (20-12) hosts Northeastern (19-12) in the quarterfinals of the 2009 College Basketball Invitational on Monday at 8 p.m. MDT.
Both teams posted two-point road victories in the opening round, with UTEP prevailing at Nevada, 79-77, and Northeastern winning at Wyoming, 64-62. Both games were played last Tuesday.
Semifinal games are slated for Wednesday, with the best-of-three championship series scheduled for March 30-April 3. The tournament will be re-seeded and semifinal matchups will be determined following Monday's games.
UTEP and Northeastern are meeting for the first time. The Miners have posted an all-time record of 6-0 against Colonial Athletic Conference teams, including a 79-66 win over James Madison in the Cable Car Classic on Dec. 29 in Santa Clara, Calif.
The Miners have faced a team from the state of Massachusetts just twice previously -- a 94-69 win over Assumption College on Dec. 6, 1980 in Worcester, and a 93-60 victory over Boston College on Dec. 28, 1987 in El Paso.
Northeastern is a school of 15,000 located in Boston. The Huskies are 19-12 this season and posted a 12-6 mark in the Colonial Athletic Conference, tying for third place behind VCU and George Mason. Third-seeded Northeastern was upset by 11th-seeded Towson, 58-54, in the quarterfinals of the CAA Tournament on March 7. The Huskies are 4-6 in their last 10 games after starting the season 15-6.
Junior swingman Matt Janning is averaging 14.3 points per game, and junior forward Manny Adako is averaging 11.3 points per contest. Adako did not play in Northeastern's CBI opening round win at Wyoming due to a knee injury, and he is a game-time decision for Monday.
Northeastern has been exceptional defensively, limiting opponents to 59.9 points per game. The Huskies have surrendered 80+ points only once this season, an 80-48 loss at Memphis on Dec. 31. Northeastern has played a demanding schedule with games at Michigan, Providence, USF, Indiana, Memphis and VCU, among others. The Huskies are 7-5 at home and 11-6 on the road for the year.
Although Northeastern has never faced UTEP, the Huskies have played a game in El Paso. Northeastern, then coached by the legendary Jim Calhoun, beat Fresno State and lost to Utah in the 1981 NCAA Tournament West Regional at the Special Events Center (now the Don Haskins Center) in El Paso.