You’ll probably hear this from me at points throughout this season but this time I mean it. This is the biggest game so far of the Northwestern Wildcats season. Heck, you can say the same for the Iowa Hawkeyes as well. Both teams are trying to gain traction in league play although they’ve had different roads to their current records. Iowa has played three of the top teams in the league in the Indiana Hoosiers, Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans. Northwestern drew the same Wolverines, the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Obviously, only Penn State is a proverbial bottom feeder so both teams shouldn’t fret much. However, you don’t want to get buried before your season really starts. Expect this one to go down to the wire.
Tempo is going to be a major key for Northwestern. Head coach Bill Carmody acknowledged after the Michigan game that he needed to slow down the pace for Northwestern to succeed this year without Drew Crawford and JerShon Cobb in the starting lineup. Although, he added he would look to play with pace at home against certain teams. Don’t get suckered into it Bill. That’s exactly what Iowa wants to do with their young athletes Muck this game up. Keep it in the 50′s or 60′s. Dribble and kick the ball inside. We saw both Michigan and Michigan State have success with that. Iowa doesn’t communicate well with each other on help side defensive. Defensively, I’d look to utilize some zone early and often. The Hawkeyes really can’t shoot the ball from the perimeter except for Roy Devyn Marble. Force other guys to beat you from deep.
Push the pace from the start. Northwestern is not deep, especially up front, and they will wear down. The Maryland Terrapins gave the blueprint during their win in the ACC-Big Ten challenge. Against the Northwestern zone. make sure you cross the floor with the pass. Keeping the ball on one size is playing into the Wildcats hands. And finally, post Aaron White and Melsahn Basabe from the opening tip. They have explosive first steps and Northwestern will be forced to foul, getting you to the line early in the game.
Iowa is too good a team to go to 0-4 in the conference although they are probably a year away from being a real contender to go to the NCAA Tournament. I just can’t buy into the Wildcats rebirth, just yet, given the level of competition they defeated.
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