Indiana v. Northwestern: Hoosiers seek 20th win (preview).

Northwestern Wildcats

Current record: 15-9 (5-7)
Current RPI: 42 (IU is #15)
Current Sagarin: 56 (IU is #9)
Current Pomeroy: 60 (IU is #11)
2010-11 record: 20-14 (7-11), lost to Washington St. in third round of NIT
2010-11 RPI: 87
2010-11 Sagarin: 50
2010-11 Pomeroy: 49
Series: IU leads 109-46
Last Northwestern win: 2/19/2011 (70-64 in Bloomington)

Last IU win: 3/6/2011 (88-80 in Bloomington)
Last Northwestern win in Bloomington: See above
Pomeroy scouting report
TV: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday Big Ten Network

Blogs: Sippin on Purple, Lake the Posts

After decades of being among the worst programs in college basketball, Northwestern has taken a big step forward under Bill Carmody, but the Wildcats seem ready to once again fall a couple of games short of what would be their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. Like many IU fans, for the last three years, despite some really ugly losses to Northwestern, I consoled myself with the idea that IU might be contributing to what would have been one of the all-time feel-good stories in college basketball history. Unfortunately, despite a 6-1 record over IU over the previous three seasons, despite the Wildcats' first-ever wins at Assembly Hall in 2009 and 2011, NU fell short. And now it's time for the Hoosiers to restore some order to this series. As I mentioned above, IU has lost six times to Northwestern in the previous three seasons. From 1971 through 2008, IU lost to NU only 6 times in 38 seasons.

The Wildcats now stand at 15-9/5-7, and must be regretting their narrow home losses to fellow bubble teams Purdue and Illinois. NU can salve the wounds from those games by stealing one at IU. By now, Northwestern's MO is pretty well-established: slow-paced, very efficient offense, no offensive rebounding, decent defensive rebounding, subpar defense. This season is no exception. Overall, NU is #18 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and #121 in adjusted defensive efficiency. In Big Ten play, NU is decent offensively, scoring 1.057 points per possession (#7), but allowing 1.14 points per possession (#11). The Wildcats have been particularly bad this season at two point defense: NU is allowing 52 percent shooting from inside the arc overall and 56 percent in Big Ten play. As always, NU is tops in the Big Ten and among the nation's leaders in the percentage of its shots taken from behind the arc (about 40).


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
John Shurna 24 36.8 6.9 14.3 48.1 2.7 6.2 43.6 3.5 4.5 76.9 1.4 4.3 5.7 2.5 1.7 1.2 1.5 1.7 19.9
Drew Crawford 24 34.9 6.3 13.0 48.6 1.8 4.4 41.0 2.4 3.5 69.9 1.2 3.5 4.6 2.1 1.5 1.1 0.7 2.2 16.8
Dave Sobolewski 24 35.5 2.7 6.4 42.5 1.4 3.9 36.6 2.3 3.0 76.4 0.5 2.3 2.8 3.9 1.2 1.0 0.3 2.3 9.1
Reggie Hearn 24 24.7 2.5 4.8 52.6 1.3 2.9 42.9 1.2 1.5 80.6 0.9 2.6 3.5 1.1 1.6 0.5 0.3 2.8 7.5
Luka Mirkovic 19 19.9 2.4 4.9 49.5 0.0 0.5 0.0 1.1 2.2 51.2 0.8 3.0 3.8 1.7 1.1 0.5 0.3 1.7 5.9
JerShon Cobb 12 16.7 2.0 5.7 35.3 0.6 2.1 28.0 1.0 1.6 63.2 0.2 0.7 0.8 1.1 1.6 1.2 0.2 1.3 5.6
Alex Marcotullio 20 20.0 1.6 3.7 41.9 1.2 3.1 39.3 0.5 0.7 69.2 0.4 1.8 2.1 2.3 1.0 0.7 0.2 2.3 4.8
Davide Curletti 24 19.4 1.2 3.0 39.4 0.2 0.8 27.8 1.5 2.5 59.3 1.0 2.5 3.5 1.9 1.1 0.5 0.5 2.5 4.0
Tre Demps 4 14.3 0.8 4.3 17.6 0.5 2.0 25.0 0.3 1.3 20.0 0.0 1.3 1.3 1.3 0.5 0.3 0.0 0.0 2.3
Nick Fruendt 16 7.0 0.6 1.3 45.0 0.3 0.6 44.4 0.2 0.3 75.0 0.6 0.6 1.2 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.1 0.8 1.6
Omar Jimenez 7 3.0 0.3 0.9 33.3 0.1 0.7 20.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.7
James Mongomery III 9 3.1 0.0 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.4 0.0 0.1 0.7 16.7 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.1

Offensively, Northwestern leans heavily on John Shurna, who with 19.9 points per game ans 43 percent three point shooting is one of the most potent scorers in the country. Drew Crawford isn't far behind him at 16.8 per game and 41 percent three point shooting. Reggie Hearn and Alex Marcotullio are other three point threats. I don't mean to focus inordinately on three point shooting, but that's what Northwestern does, and getting hot from deep seems to be the Wildcats' primary hope for victory. IU's three point defense has been middling this year, but the issue with Northwestern is its offense is designed to create back door layups, and quite often does, when the three point shot is denied. During the Crean era, IU's points-per-possession numbers against IU have been as follows: in 2011, 1.18 and 1.32; in 2010, 1.07 (the only win), 1.20, and 1.23; in 2009, 1.12 and 1.22. To put those numbers in perspective, we all know that IU has been better on defense this year, but not a strong defensive team. Nevertheless, IU's worst efficiency number of this season was 1.21 points per possession in the loss to Michigan State. That means that 5 of IU's 7 performances against Northwestern over the last three years would be, at best, in the ballpark of IU's worst defensive performances of this season. Finding a way to stifle the Northwestern offense would be a big step forward for this team.

A win tonight would be a meaningless but comforting milestone: the 20th win of the season after losing at least 20 in each of the previous three seasons. It would be IU's 8th win, and would put IU in a position where it is very difficult to imagine falling short of the NCAA Tournament, even if the team loses out until the Big Ten Tournament. It's nice that our goals have changed since the beginning of the season, but it would be a nice feeling to have the NCAA bid all but secure.

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