NU Draws Minnesota in Opening Round

Teams will square off for second time in nine days

EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern squares off against a familiar foe as it takes on Minnesota in Thursday's opening round of the 2011 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis.

The teams will play the first game of the tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse, squaring off at 1:30 p.m. Central time. ESPN2 is providing live television coverage.

NU (17-12, 7-11 Big Ten) is the tournament's No. 8 seed, while Minnesota (17-13, 6-12) is seeded ninth. The winner earns a matchup against top-seeded Ohio State, the Big Ten regular-season champion, at 11 a.m. Central in Friday's quarterfinal round.

It is the fifth meeting between the Wildcats and the Golden Gophers in the Big Ten tourney with NU winning the 2003 matchup in Chicago.

For the 'Cats, it is their second consecutive game against Minnesota. Northwestern defeated the Gophers 68-57 in its regular-season finale March 2 in Evanston. Alex Marcotullio and Michael Thompson led NU with 18 points apiece with Marcotullio's total establishing a career high. The Wildcats used an 18-4 run to rally from a 10-point second-half deficit.

Minnesota won the first meeting between the teams 81-70 Jan. 26 in Minneapolis. The Gophers were ranked No. 16 in the nation at the time, but have lost nine of their last 10 games since, including a 66-63 home loss to Penn State on Sunday.

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