Oh yes, another year, another big opportunity for Northwestern to make a statement.
In case you simply are not aware of the Wildcats’ past success, or lack thereof I should say, Northwestern has never qualified for the NCAA Tournament and year-in and year-out the same question is asked; is this their year?
The expectations for the Wildcats this season are not as high as they have been in recent years and head coach Bill Carmody may be running out of time in his efforts to make school history. However, this is college basketball, and upsets are a consistent theme each season.
So, with No. 2 ranked Michigan in the house tonight, can the Wildcats make a national statement with their tenth victory of the season?
Well, not so fast.
At this point in the season, it’s easy to give Northwestern the benefit of the doubt. They are the home team, but certainly not the favorite, so a loss to Michigan doesn’t exactly hurt their chances in the coming months. However, it’s the opportunity of a resume-building victory that cannot be denied on Thursday night.
The game will mark the conference opener for each squad. In addition, Northwestern must travel to a red-hot Minnesota squad on Sunday, so that boosts the importance even more so.
Yet let’s be serious, Northwestern isn’t going to handle Michigan straight up, regardless of home-court advantage. Their ability to limit Trey Burke and the transition ability of the Wolverines will be key. Northwestern must keep this game in the 50s or 60s in order to have a chance. That won’t be easy against a 13-0 Michigan squad that is currently 17th in the country in points per game (80.1).
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm (EST) from Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Paul Seaver is the College Basketball Network Manager at Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS