The Purple Demons of Northwestern State knocked off Stephen F. Austin in a thrilling Southland Conference championship game on Saturday night. NSU will be heading to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Northwestern State:
1. It’s in Louisiana. There are few places in the United States less northwestern than Louisiana, but that’s where Northwestern State is located. The school’s full name is actually Northwestern State of Louisiana, but nobody calls it that. Maybe they should start.
2. The last time they were in the NCAA Tournament, they did this:
3. They won the first-ever play-in game. Northwestern State defeated Winthrop on March 13, 2001, in the first ever “opening round” game in NCAA Tournament history. That was back when the field included 65 teams.
4. They can really fill it up. Northwestern State leads the nation in scoring, averaging 81 points per game. They’ve gone over 100 points five times this season. Four players average in double figures, led by 6-7 junior DeQuan Hicks, who put up 14.1 ppg.
5. This team knows how to win. The Demons have won 13 of 15 and finished the year 25-8, 17-3 in the Southland Conference. They have virtually no bad losses, and played a tough non-conference schedule, losing to Arkansas, Oklahoma, LSU, and Texas A&M. This team fits the profile of one that could pull a stunning first-round upset.