Grading The 'Cats

Juice Thompson earned a good grade, but how does the rest of the team grade out in the round one win?

Offense: A

Juice Thompson was mighty impressive in a senior night win over Minnesota last week. Today, he was even better.

Juice had a career-high 35 points today against the Gophers, helping Northwestern advance into the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. The star senior had help, with freshman Drew Crawford adding 15 points and Alex Marcotullio adding 13 in his second consecutive big game against the Minnesota

NU couldn't match the Gophers on the boards, but hit four more threes and took command late in the game, thanks to Thompson's senior leadership.

Defense: B+

Northwestern held its own against Minnesota on the boards, considering the Gophers' size advantage. NU also picked up four blocks in the game.

This Wildcat team has always been able to score, but what it lacked most of the year was defense, and coach Bill Carmody was very critical of his team's defense after a 15-point loss to Wisconsin in late February. However, Northwestern's defense has been much improved over the last two games--both against Minnesota--and it needs that to continue if it wants a chance to upset Ohio State.

Overall: A

While Northwestern likely has no hopes of making the NCAA Tournament unless it wins the Big Ten Tourney this weekend, it certainly played with heart and played inspired.

Juice Thompson was tremendous, scoring a career-high 35 points, and the NU offense was a scoring machine once again. However, the Wildcats had a sound defensive effort for the second time in as many games, raising hopes that maybe they can turn things around on that side of the ball.

Next up is top-ranked Ohio State. The Wildcats came close to topping the Buckeyes earlier this season and a win tomorrow will be hard to come by. However, if NU holds its own on the boards and Thompson comes up with another big game, the Wildcats could shock the world tomorrow against arguably the best team in the country.

Player of the Game: Juice Thompson

For the second game in a row, Thompson wins MVP honors, and he did so in dramatic fashion, posting a career-high 35 points, tying a Big Ten Tournament record.

Thompson is the leader for this team, and it shows as he sparked his team with five big shots from beyond the arc. In all likelihood, the Wildcats won't be headed to the NCAA Tournament this season, but Thompson has left his mark on Northwestern basketball.

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