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Breakin’ It Down: Northwestern Fights But Falls Against The No. 1 Michigan Wolverines

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t believe in moral victories in nearly any circumstance but there are some positives that fans of the Northwestern Wildcats can take forward despite the final score they saw Wednesday against the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor.

Several times in the second half the Wildcats were right there as Michigan refused to shut the door. Dave Sobolewski could have made it a six-point ball game after Trey Burke inexplicably fouled him on a three-point shot. Sobo missed all three “freebies.”

Northwestern had another opportunity on a Michigan turnover to cut it to single digits but Alex Marcotullio‘s wide open three wouldn’t fall.

Finally, they had a second chance opportunity down 10 that Alex Olah somehow didn’t corral. Chances, missed opportunities? No doubt. However, it showed the chance is still there to do something special this season but the window is rapidly closing.

QUICK HITS:

- Sobolewski has got to see a shrink, or something, about his free throws. You just can’t have your point guard shooting under 70 percent from the line. He’s going to get a lot of chances with his fearlessness going to the rim. Those are points you waste by not cashing it at the charity stripe. I’d seriously have him think about little else but shooting free throws before Saturday’s game.

- Why isn’t Olah aggressive from the start! This “setting a screen 20 feet from the basket” is pointless. I know it is part of Bill Carmody‘s Princeton offense but he’s got to be able to isolate on the block as well. He showed nice touch around the rim when given the chance. Don’t be timid. Shooting a lot of long perimeter jumpers is a tough way to live unless you are an elite team in the mold of Michigan, the Creighton Blue Jays or Duke Blue Devils. Northwestern isn’t obviously at that level.

- Can someone find Tre Demps? I know the kid is just a redshirt freshman but he can’t hit a damn thing right now. Since he’s now in the starting lineup you’ve got to have him at least hold his own. 6-8 points a game would be fine but he’s shooting pure bricks right now.

- Stop playing Mike Turner. I hate ripping a kid as raw as Turner but he is just terrible to watch right now. Nikola Cerina has got to be a better option at the “five” backing up Olah. All Turner does “right” is foul out.

GOING FORWARD:

This loss doesn’t really hurt that much considering Michigan’s standing in the college basketball world. I seriously doubt anyone beats them on their home floor all year or even keeps it close for most of the game. They are just at a different level right now and will be a Final Four, in my opinion.

Northwestern faces their first “must win” of the year on Saturday against the Purdue Boilermakers at home. The hardest part of the Wildcats schedule is over. Outside of the Ohio State Buckeyes game in Columbus, the next seven of eight are really winnable. The Boilermakers struggle to score in the half court but can be physical on the glass. That’s very similar to what the Wildcats saw against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at home when they took care of business. Get that “W” and you have a week to rest and prepare for the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road. A 5-6 Big Ten record going into that aforementioned Ohio State game is not out of the question. But what could have been without that bad Nebraska Cornhuskers loss. As Pat Fitzgerald would say…. “FLUSH IT!”.

Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.