The Northwestern game, take 2.

Northwestern Wildcats
Current record: 14-11 (5-9)
Current RPI: 78
Current Sagarin: 64
Current Pomeroy: 82
2007-08 record: 8-21 (1-17)
2007-08 RPI: 191
2007-08 Sagarin: 190
2007-08 Pomeroy: 158
Series: IU leads 107-44
Last Northwestern win: 1/29/2009 (77-75 in Evanston)
Last IU win: 2/23/2008 (85-82 in Evanston)
Last Northwestern win in Bloomington: 1/13/1968 (86-81)
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: 6:30 Wednesday, BTN

When IU and Northwestern last played, just less than a month ago, the Wildcats were 2-5 in the Big Ten against a brutal schedule, but were sporting bubble-worthy computer rankings in the mid 40s. Now, NU has settled back to earth. IU nearly upset the Wildcats in January, but NU simply gave away home games against Illinois and Purdue, and but for those losses, the Wildcats might be in the bubble discussions today. Instead, Northwestern must win this game to preserve its NIT hopes, considering that the Wildcats still have to travel to Purdue and Ohio State.

In the first game, neither defense excelled, and both teams turned the ball over quite a bit. For IU, that is typical. for Northwestern, it is not. In conference games, NU allows 1.09 points per possessions, just a touch better than IU's 1.10. On offense, NU is marginally better. Both teams are shooting well from three point range during Big Ten games (NU 37 percent, IU 36.8 percent). On the other hand, the teams are the two worst defensively against the three. IU rebounds significantly better on both ends of the court. NU's main advantage, statistically, comes from turnovers. NU is first the conference both in taking care of the ball and in forcing turnovers on the other end. In the first game, both teams turned it over a bunch and both teams shot 12-23 from behind the arc. If IU is to win, the Hoosiers will have to take better care of the ball, do whatever they did to force NU to cough it up, and find a way to stop Kevin Coble, Craig Moore, and Michael Thompson.

Northwestern has never won at Assembly Hall. That was true of Penn State until a few weeks ago, but Penn State has been in the conference only since 1993. Northwestern, a charter member of the Big Ten, is 0-32 in Assembly Hall and hasn't won in Bloomington since 1968, when IU played at what then was known as the "new fieldhouse." In the 101 years since IU and NU first played in basketball, the Wildcats have won in Bloomington on 12 times, and eight of those were before the NCAA Tournament era began in 1939. I'm not sure how, but IU simply has to win this game.


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