The Northwestern Wildcats are coming off a big win against the Illinois Fighting Illini, and what’s their reward? Getting to face the #2 Indiana Hoosiers at home. Oh, and “the cream and crimson” are coming off of a tough loss at home to the Wisconsin Badgers too. Talk about stirring the hornets nest.
At least Northwestern can imagine this is a road game, where they have had some nice success, as Welsh-Ryan Arena is expecting up to five thousand Indiana fans to be in attendance. If you think that’s a joke, someone from the team is buying into it. Head coach Bill Carmody told the media that his team will spend the hours before the game at a local hotel. Go figure. Let’s get to the game on the court…
NORTHWESTERN: They were able to control the tempo against the Illini and it kept them in the game. You figure to see the same game plan in this one. The Hoosiers are best when they get out on the break either for a drive directly to the hoop or a kick back to Christian Watford or Jordan Hulls. They will be looking to milk the shot clock and force IU to defend for 30 seconds. Besides Victor Oladipo, they don’t really have the shutdown defender.
You can even take the ball at Cody Zeller, despite his size. Dave Sobolewski must be aggressive, unlike the other night. His match up against against freshman Yogi Ferrell should be rather favorable. Additionally, Jared Swopshire will be defended by a similar player to his build in Watford. Christian doesn’t move his feet well and Swop has a quick first step. He will look to use it and get Indiana into early foul trouble, so they don’t close out on perimeter shooters hard.
Defensively, the team will be playing tough man to man. They will see if Alex Olah‘s mass can bother Zeller. The 1-3-1 could formation could be absolutely shredded with the amount of perimeter weapons Indiana has.
INDIANA: They should be licking their chops to play this one. Not just because they get one of the perennial bottom-feeders in the Big Ten, but they get to erase the bad taste in your mouth from the Wisconsin game! Push the pace from the start.
Indiana was forced to play a slower game and they didn’t look very comfortable. Of course, Wisconsin making “hero shots” might have something to do with that.
Post Zeller early – Northwestern’s bigs tend to foul at a high rate, and Indiana should be able to get into the bonus where they excel. I would also try and get Hulls some shots early – He needs to get back in rhythm and making him wait till later in the game just exacerbates that pressure.
Oh and it’s time for Watford to stop taking plays off. He’s looked aloof the last few games – don’t start running out in transition before your team has the defensive rebound. Help them out!
PREDICTION: Northwestern’s win over Illinois was great but the Fighting Illini are fading. This is clearly a step up in competition. Winning here would put them back in the NCAA Tournament discussion but I just don’t see it happening. Indiana is still in the conference race and cannot afford to fall any farther behind.
Indiana 67 – Northwestern 53.
Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.