Bus­loads of North­eastern bas­ket­ball fans are taking a road trip.

Hun­dreds of stu­dents, fac­ulty, staff and alumni are going to Storrs, Conn., to cheer on the Huskies as they battle the Uni­ver­sity of Con­necticut in the first round of the National Invi­ta­tion Tour­na­ment tonight.

The playoff game between No. 5 seed North­eastern and No. 4 seed UConn tips off at 7 p.m. at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. The game will be tele­vised on ESPN2.

Stu­dents, coaches and other mem­bers of the North­eastern com­mu­nity are hoping that a little extra sup­port can spur the Huskies to a playoff vic­tory for the second con­sec­u­tive season. Last year, North­eastern beat Wyoming in the first round of the Col­lege Bas­ket­ball Invi­ta­tional tournament.

We’re very pleased with the sup­port we’ve received from the stu­dent body this year,” said head coach Bill Coen, the 2010 United States Bas­ket­ball Writers Asso­ci­a­tion Dis­trict 1 Coach of the Year.

Coen led the Huskies to a 20–12 reg­ular season record, but North­eastern fell to William & Mary, 64–62, in the semi­fi­nals of the Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence tournament.

Third-​​year crim­inal jus­tice major Darren Costa echoed Coen by pointing to the growing enthu­siasm for North­eastern bas­ket­ball. Costa blogs about Husky hoops and cre­ated The N Zone, a Face­book group ded­i­cated to Northeastern’s cheering section.

The program’s on the upswing and players really enjoy having that sixth man in the stands to get them going,” he said.

The Office of Alumni Rela­tions spread the word about the game through social net­working sites such as Face­book and Twitter.

Alumni from all over the country are expected to watch the Battle of the Huskies (the teams share the same nick­name), while others are dri­ving down from New York to cheer on the red and black, said Jack Moynihan, vice pres­i­dent for alumni rela­tions and The North­eastern Fund.

Any time we can put together a group of alumni to net­work, sup­port our teams and sup­port the Uni­ver­sity, it’s really ben­e­fi­cial for us,” he said.

The North­eastern Huskies would host a second round game on Sat­urday at Matthews Arena if they win on Tuesday and No. 8 seed Quin­nipiac upsets No. 1 seed Vir­ginia Tech. But Coen’s not looking past UConn.

For North­eastern to get a “W,” they’ll have to stop UConn’s tran­si­tion game and rebound the bas­ket­ball with greater ferocity, Coen said, adding, “They’re a tremen­dous bas­ket­ball team that presents a great chal­lenge to us.”

To read about the game, please click the fol­lowing link: http://​gonu​.com/​m​b​a​s​k​e​t​b​a​l​l​/​2​0​1​0​/​m​b​1​0​-​3​3​.​s​h​tml