7:00 Saturday. The Breslin Center. Big Ten Network.
Not a lot has changed in terms of the statistics since these two teams met in Evanston two and a half weeks, with MSU prevailing 78-62. So I’m going to cheat and lift most of the game preview from the preview of the first meeting.
Northwestern comes in winless (
0-5 0-9) in conference play.
leads is third in the nation in offensive rebounding %. Northwestern is dead last (341st) in the nation in offensive rebounding % and ranks in the bottom 20 10 in defensive rebounding %.
MSU turns the ball over a lot (
170th 201st in the nation in TO%) and doesn’t create a lot of turnovers ( 291st 277th in defensive TO%). Northwestern ranks in the top 20 30 in both offensive and defensive TO%.
MSU doesn’t shoot a lot of 3-pointers (
2nd 5th lowest 3FG/FGA % in the nation). Northwestern takes a lot of 3-pointers (21st highest 3FG/FGA %).
Following the Penn State loss, this is probably the worst scheduling scenario possible–having a mid-week bye and then playing the worst team in the conference, whom you’ve already beaten once, at home. MSU will no doubt come out playing with tremendous intensity and beat the Wildcats handily. Kenpom predicts a 77-56 MSU win; I’d bet on the Spartans to beat that spread.
I’d much rather have had the bye to prepare for a tougher team that plays man-to-man defense. We already know how to beat the 1-3-1. We’ll have to trust that Izzo knows what he’s doing and used the extra practice time to work on things that will help in the tough closing 8-game stretch of conference play that follows this game (five road games play a home game vs. IU).
As far as Northwestern goes, they’re now staring a winless conference season in the face. The best odds Kenpom gives them to win a game is a 34% chance to beat Iowa at home. It’s hard to believe Bill Carmody can last much longer. That’s a shame. When he first moved to Evanston 7+ years ago, the Princeton Offense thing seemed like a master stroke for a program that long struggled to bring in top talent, in large part due to higher academic standards. But, for whatever reason, it’s clearly failed. Since a high-water mark of 8-8 in Big Ten play in 2004, the Wildcats have gone just 14-43 in conference play over the last three and a half seasons.
Lake the Posts speculated on possible replacements for Carmody a week ago. His dream pick: high school coaching legend Bob Hurley, Sr.