Mississippi Valley State (3-6) at Northwestern (5-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 16, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) -- Evanston, Illinois. Television: BTN. Home Record: MVSU 2-0, Northwestern 4-1. Away Record: MVSU 0-5, Northwestern 1-2. Neutral Record: MVSU 1-1, Northwestern 0-2. Conference Record: MVSU 0-0, Northwestern 0-0. Series Record: Northwestern leads, 3-1.
GAME NOTES: In the second part of a five-game homestand the Northwestern Wildcats will take on the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils in a non- league affair at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Delta Devils are currently riding a short two-game win streak with victories over Longwood (90-89) and Tougaloo College (89-81). However, the recent upswing has only helped improve MSVU's record slightly, which stands at just 3-6 overall. A challenging trip to the Pacific Northwest follows this contest, as the Delta Devils play Washington and Washington State in their next two outings.
A 51-35 victory over Western Michigan got the Wildcats' homestand off on the right foot. The win ended a three-game slide for Northwestern, which is an even 5-5 overall. That record includes a 4-1 mark at home. In its next matchup, Northwestern plays host to Brown.
When these teams met last season Northwestern cruised to an 81-68 triumph in a game also held at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Wildcats have won three of the four previous meetings.
MVSU nearly let a 12-point lead at halftime disappear down the stretch against Tougaloo, which was allowed to shoot at a 71.4 percent clip in the second half. However, the Delta Devils sank 66.7 percent of their own shots and 18- of-25 from the free-throw line during the frame.
Defending against Division I opponents has been a real struggle for MVSU this season. The Delta Devils are being lit up for 92.5 points per game on 55 percent shooting, ranking right near the bottom of the country in both categories. Anthony McDonald (16.4 ppg) is the top scoring option for MVSU, which is netting a healthy 75 points per game as a team. McDonald was limited to just six points on 1-of-5 shooting against Tougaloo. Jordan Washington (9.9 ppg) picked up the slack and scored a team-high 19 points. DeAngelo Priar (12.2 ppg) and James Currington (10.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg) add scoring options. The duo combined for 24 points last time out.
In a brutal game from an offensive standpoint, the Wildcats really tightened up on defense to take down Western Michigan. Northwestern held the Broncos to only 10 field goals on 24.4 percent shooting. Drew Crawford scored 15 points and collected nine rebounds, but was erratic with his shooting (5-of-16).
Northwestern usually doesn't excel offensively, as it is averaging just 66.7 points per game on 41.9 percent shooting. However, the Wildcats are solid on defense. They have held foes to just 65 points per game and a success rate of 42.4 percent on field-goal attempts. Crawford (14.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is the leading scorer and rebounder for the squad. The 6-foot-5 swingman has scored in double figures in eight of the nine games he has played in this season. JerShon Cobb (13.6 ppg) is the second-best scoring option and the only other player averaging in double figures. Tre Demps (9.5 ppg) gives the Wildcats a spark off the bench. Dave Sobolewski (8.8 ppg) is a gunner from 3-point range, but he has only hit 20.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc this season.
Although scoring has not come easy for Northwestern, the Wildcats should get a real boost against the Delta Devils.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northwestern 81, Mississippi Valley State 65
12/16 10:33:07 ET