Opponent Preview: Northwestern

The Big Ten tournament gets underway today in Indianapolis, Ind. when the No.8 seeded Northwestern Wildcats take on the No. 9 seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers. Tip-off at Conseco Fieldhouse is set for 1:30 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.

Minnesota (17-13, 6-12) vs. Northwestern (17-12, 7-11)
Indianapolis, Ind. – Conseco Fieldhouse
1:30 p.m. CT – ESPN2 (Dave O'Brien, Dan Dakich)

Quotable

"I hadn't played well the last two games. I just wanted to come out and play looser. Trying to get my hands on balls and make energy plays." -- Sophomore guard Alex Marcotullio in the Daily Herald after he delivered a career-high 18 points off the bench in Northwestern's 68-57 win over Minnesota on March 2.

PREGAME NOTES

What's at Stake: The Wildcats have an RPI in the low 90s and their power rankings hovering in the mid-60s so they need to sweep four games in a row to earn their first NCAA tournament birth.

Coaching Preview: Bill Carmody is in his 11th season as the head coach at Northwestern where he has compiled a 157-176. A year ago he led the Wildcats to a school-record 20 wins and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament. The 15-year collegiate head coach was honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the 2003-04 season.

Series History: Minnesota leads the all-time series with Northwestern, 90-59. The two teams split the season series last year with both teams winning on their home court. The Gophers won the first meeting between the teams this season. The Gophers are 53-18 against the Wildcats in Minneapolis. The Wildcats won the second meeting between the two teams earlier this month.

Last Meeting: Northwestern defeated Minnesota , 68-57, on Mar. 02, 2011, in Evanston, Ill. Trevor Mbakwe recorded his Big Ten leading 17th double-double of the year with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Northwestern forward John Shurna posted 15 for the Wildcats. The Gophers led by 10 points with 13:12 remaining but let the game slip away late, losing to Northwestern.

Stats to Watch: When the Wildcats tally at least 70 points this season, their record is 15-1. Northwestern's record falls to 1-11 when it tallies 69 points or less. NU's only loss when scoring at least 70 points was against the Golden Gophers.

Projected Starters:
C 12 Luka Mirkovic (6-11, 248, Jr.) - 7.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg
F 24 John Shurna (6-8, 215, Jr.) - 16.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg
F 03 Mike Capocci (6-6, 195, Sr.) - 1.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg
G 22 Michael Thompson (5-10, 190, Sr.) - 15.2 ppg, 4.4 apg
G 01 Drew Crawford (6-5, 205, So.) - 12.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg

Background:
Location: Evanston, Ill.
Enrollment: 16,640
Conference: Big Ten
Mascot: Willie the Wildcat
Colors: Purple and White
Coach: Bill Carmody (11th season)


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