Big Ten (17-13, 8-10)
Big Wins: 12/3 Florida State (73-59), 1/21 at Michigan State (70-63), 3/4 at Purdue (64-61)
Bad Losses: 12/20 at Stanford (59-65), 12/31 at Penn State (57-61), 2/7 at Iowa (51-56)
Coach: Bill Carmody
Michael Thompson, Sophomore, Guard, 10.1 ppg, 3.7 apg
Craig Moore, Senior, Guard, 14.2 ppg, 2.7 apg
Kevin Coble, Junior, Forward, 15.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.3 apg
John Shurna, Freshman, Forward, 7.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Kyle Rowley, Freshman, Center, 3.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg
Luka Mirkovic, Freshman, Forward, 3.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Jeremy Nash, Junior, Guard, 3.5 ppg, 1.1 apg
Ivan Peljusic, Sophomore, Forward, 2.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg
Jeff Ryan, Junior, Guard, 2.1 ppg, 1.1 apg
Why They Can Surprise:
The Wildcats have a couple very productive scorers in forward Kevin Coble and guard Craig Moore. Coble is the typical Northwestern type of player that has the size to battle in the paint, but also the outside shooting touch to consistently hit the long ball. Coble connects on 39.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, but he is not opposed to slashing to the basket or even backing down smaller opponents. The Wildcats do not get to the charity stripe very often, but Coble is the one guy who will be aggressive and get to the line.
Moore, a 6-3 senior, is the shooter of the team. Just about all of his attempts will come from beyond the arc, but that is not a bad thing since he hits 40.4 percent of his long balls. Even though Moore will not be very aggressive getting to the basket, his free-throw shooting towards the end of a game is a huge asset.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Like most Northwestern teams of the recent past, this group is not good at rebounding. Coach Bill Carmody’s squad does not lack in size, but their version of the Princeton Offense does not lend itself to grabbing boards. John Shurna and Kyle Rowly are the usual starters in the frontcourt alongside Coble and they only average 3.0 and 1.9 rebounds per game, respectively. To be fair those two average less than 20 minutes per game, but they could still do better in the rebounding department. The problem is they are both freshmen who need to spend some time hitting the weights before they can battle with most people on the glass. Luka Mirkovic and Ivan Peljusic will see some minutes at the forward spots as well and they need to help out when they have the opportunity.
Who To Watch:
Michael Thompson is the other star of the team besides Coble and Moore. In fact, those three all average over 30 minutes per game and nobody else eclipses the 20 minute mark. So it is not surprising that Thompson gets quite a bit of scoring done too. On most nights he will be the third scoring option, although Shurna has been performing quite well late in the year. Thompson is a solid outside shooter and connects on 42.1 percent of his attempts, but he will also use his quickness to get to the basket. Thompson does run the show for the Wildcats and it is his job to set up Coble and Moore with good looks and take care of the ball. Northwestern rarely turns the ball over and it is Thompson’s leadership that leads to quality possessions and open shots.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 64.0 (257th in nation, 9th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 60.1 (23, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.9 (107, 4)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.7 (140, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.2 (24, 2)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.8 (25, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.9 (167, 8)
Rebound Margin: -5.1 (308, 11)
Assists Per Game: 15.4 (46, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.1 (8, 3)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Final Four loss to St. Mary’s