Minnesota (17-9) at Northwestern (15-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday February 18th, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) -- Evanston, Illinois. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: UofM 12-4, NU 10-3. Away Record: UofM 3-4, NU 2-7. Neutral Record: UofM 2-1, NU 3-0. Conference Record: UofM 5-8, NU 5-8. Series Record: Minnesota leads, 91-60.
GAME NOTES: The Minnesota Golden Gophers will try to turn things around as they head to the Land of Lincoln for Big Ten Conference action with the Northwestern Wildcats at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.
This will be the second contest between Minnesota and the Wildcats this season and the 152nd in history. The Golden Gophers hold a 91-60 lead in the all-time series after their 75-52 victory over Northwestern at home on Jan. 22nd. Minnesota put on a shooting clinic in the first matchup between these squads, as it knocked down 57.7 percent of its field goals en route to the decisive victory.
The Golden Gophers are on a two-game losing slide after spirited efforts against the nationally ranked Wisconsin Badgers and Ohio State Buckeyes. In their 78-68 loss to the Buckeyes, the Golden Gophers shot 46.2 percent from the field, but lost as Ohio State knocked down 22-of-28 from the charity stripe to create some distance on the scoreboard. Minnesota is outscoring its opponents by an average of 4.8 ppg this season. The loss dropped Tubby Smith's team to 17-9 overall and 5-8 in Big Ten play.
Rodney Williams leads the balanced attack for Minnesota with team highs of 11.1 points and 5.3 boards per game. Julian Welch contributes 10.1 ppg. Williams did all he could against Ohio State in the team's last outing as he finished with 21 points and nine boards. Welch chipped in 11 points and nine assists while Austin Hollins netted 10 points. Ralph Sampson III should be able to bounce back from his four-point performance against the Buckeyes against the Wildcats' thin front line.
Head coach Bill Carmody has guided his Wildcats to a 15-10 overall record so far, with the end goal still being the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will need to bounce back tonight after they lost 71-66 to Indiana on Wednesday, which was the second defeat in a row. Northwestern has been shooting the ball very well as of late, as it has made 49 percent or more of its field goal attempts in each of its last four contests. Frontcourt play has been the Wildcats' downfall, as they have been outrebounded in their last three contests.
The Wildcats have the top scoring duo in the Big Ten courtesy of John Shurna and Drew Crawford's stellar play. Shurna leads the league with 20.3 ppg while Crawford is fourth with 16.8 ppg. The tandem was sensational despite the loss to Indiana in the team's last outing, as Shurna netted 29 points and Crawford had 18. Reggie Hearn, Alex Marcotullio, and Dave Sobolewski will all need to provide some help to make it possible for a late season run for Northwestern.
Despite their blowout victory in the first matchup with Northwestern, Minnesota is going to have a challenge tonight. The Wildcats have an exhausting Princeton style offense in which they hoist up and make a healthy amount of bombs from beyond the arc. Williams will need to cool Shurna off if the Golden Gophers are going to complete the sweep of the Wildcats.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 77, Minnesota 73
02/18 10:37:27 ET