Date: Wednesday, December 30th
Location of School: Evanston, IL
Coach: Chris Collins (3rd year)
2015-16 Record: 12-1
Northwestern comes into Lincoln with their best records in 80 years. They bring a team that has been fairly hot and has a lot of momentum going into conference play.
2014-15 Season: 15-17 (6-12 Conference)
Northwestern held up the bottom of Big Ten last season finishing 10th overall and one spot ahead of Nebraska in the final rankings. They did make it to the second round of the Big Ten Tournament and lost to Indiana.
This season's squad is playing well and has the record to show it. They are currently sitting 12-1 in non conference play. Their lone defeat was a 69-80 loss to current #7 ranked North Carolina.
You're probably now asking yourself, why isn't this team ranked?
While that 11 point loss in Evanston is nothing to sneeze at, the rest of their schedule has been pretty favorable to any school out there. Most of the teams they have defeated so far in the year are either sitting around .500 or under at this point. Their two overtime games were to Virgina Tech and DePaul who are sitting 8-4 and 6-6 respectively. Their last game against Loyola (1-10) had them down by 11 at half time before they came back for a 74-59 victory.
I state this without any disrespect to this team. They are playing well and their teamwork has shown that they are a team to be reckoned with. Those overtime wins show that they can rally and finish. They are getting votes in the polls and could crack them if they pull of wins against us and Maryland this week.
Northwestern did lose their 7" center Alex Olah as he went down with a foot injury before their last game against Loyola and will be gone against the Huskers. This couldn't have happened at worse time for the Wildcats as they will need his size for conference play. Having him gone will help expose them in the middle and will test their defensive scheme going forward.
Players to Watch:
Bryant McIntosh - Bryant is their leading scorer averaging 16.2 ppg and shooting .507% from the field and .864% from the line. Nebraska needs to keep him contained early if they want to secure a win. He recently had 33 points against Loyola.
Tre Demps - Trey comes in right under Brian with 15.2 ppg but has seemed to be under performing for most of the year. Maybe the pressure of bigger teams will bring out the competitor in him.
Joey van Zegeren - Joey should replace Olah in the lineup at center this game. He is averaging around 14 minutes of play a game so we will see what kind of replacement he will be.
What will probably happen:
It's conference time and this is where the boys are separated from the men. We will see if Nortwestern's schedule did them any favors or not. As of now Nebraska is favored by 3 and I am sure that has to do with the game being in Lincoln and Olah out of the lineup bringing some uncertainty under the basket. If Nebraska plays a strong defense and doesn't let Northwestern take too many shots from the perimeter we could see the Huskers break the Wildcat's 9 game winning streak.