Northwestern (4-0) vs. TCU (4-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 23, 8:35 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: South Padre Island Convention Center (2,500) -- South Padre Island, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: NU 4-0, TCU 4-1. Away Record: NU 0-0, TCU 0-0. Neutral Record: NU 0-0, TCU 0-0. Conference Record: NU 0-0, TCU 0-0. Series Record: TCU leads, 2-0.
GAME NOTES: The Northwestern Wildcats take their talents to the Lone Star State for a semifinal-round matchup in the 2012 South Padre Island Invitational against the TCU Horned Frogs.
The winner of this contest advances to the championship game to face either Illinois State or UAB. The losers will play in the third-place game.
Bill Carmody's Wildcats are off to a 4-0 start after running through Texas Southern (79-49), Mississippi Valley State (81-68), Fairleigh Dickinson (80-53) and Delaware State (69-50). Northwestern will face its stiffest test of the season in this one as it makes its first appearance away from home. The Wildcats have won in-season tournaments in two of the past three seasons.
The Horned Frogs barely avoided their second loss under Trent Johnson the last time out, but managed to pull out a 47-45 win versus Navy to improve to 4-1. Like its counterpart here, the level of TCU's competition has not been overwhelming to this point. The team's only difficult opponent this season was SMU, which is also the team that handed TCU its only loss. Johnson became the first coach to lead the Horned Frogs to a 2-0 start since 1994 before running into Larry Brown's Mustangs.
TCU is 2-0 all-time versus Northwestern.
The Wildcats are one of the few programs in a major conference that operate a Princeton-style offense, but they are making it work to the tune of 77.3 ppg on 49.1 percent shooting from the floor, including an efficient 43.5 percent effort from three-point range. Northwestern lost its leader following the end of the 2011-12 season when the Big Ten's leading scorer John Shurna graduated. However, it has been able to establish a more balanced attack this season with Reggie Hearn and Drew Crawford leading the charge. Hearn is making three-point shooting look easy with 12 makes on just 19 attempts. His long-range shooting has yielded a team-best scoring average of 14.5 ppg. Drew Crawford nets 12.5 ppg, but that number is sure to rise as he has played limited minutes in the team's blowout victories. Jared Swopshire and freshman center Alex Olah are both pulling down six rebounds per game and point guard Dave Sobolewski has been a near-perfect game manager so far in his sophomore season.
TCU is not going to be participating in any shootouts this season. The Horned Frogs are averaging only 45.5 ppg in their first two games in this tournament versus Prarie View and Navy. On the season, they are producing 56 ppg on 45.7 percent shooting while converting only 58.1 percent of shots at the charity stripe. Junior guard Jarvis Ray leads the team in scoring with only 10.2 ppg, while Garlon Green's 6.4 rebounds per contest are tops on the squad. Point guard Kyan Anderson will match up with Sobolewski. Anderson is the team's best assist man and three-point shooter.
TCU was able to grind out wins in low-scoring affairs in its first two South Padre Invitational tilts, but it will be much harder to do against the disciplined Wildcats. NU's offense is at its best in games with fewer possessions as it often ends with a layup or open three-point attempt.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 70, TCU 59
11/23 11:02:48 ET