How They Are Doing So Far:
The national opinion of Northwestern is very close to being vastly different. The Wildcats only have three losses on the year and two of those came in early Big Ten play. They lost at Indiana by two points and followed it up with another two point loss at home to Michigan. If things fell differently, we would be talking about a 9-1 Northwestern team with a fluke loss to Fresno State who would be sitting in a great spot for a shot at another NCAA Tournament bid. As it is though, we are talking about a Wildcats team that lacks a big non-conference victory and is already 0-2 in a conference where wins are going to be tough to come by.
Last Time Out:
Northwestern’s 88-46 win over Chicago State is not going to tell us much about the Wildcats. They cruised to an easy victory right out of the gate. Vic Law scored 17 points and frontcourt mate Derek Pardon added 13 points and a team high seven rebounds. The brightest spot though was the play of freshman Miller Kopp. The Houston, Texas product came to Northwestern with some high praise as a dangerous shooter. However, until the Chicago State contest he never made more than one three-pointer in a game. Nor had he reached double figures in the scoring department. Both of those little streaks have come to an end now after he dropped 17 points on the Cougars.
Who To Watch:
This team is all about the frontcourt duo of Vic Law and Derek Pardon. Law, a 6-7 senior, is the team’s top scorer at 18.4 points per game. He also adds 6.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 blocks. Law can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability and is shooting 41.0 percent from beyond the arc. Pardon will stay in the paint more, but he too is a superb passer for a big man and dishes out 2.3 assists per game on top of his 13.9 points, 1.1 blocks and team high 8.8 rebounds. It is not easy to defend one big man who can do all of that, but Northwestern has two of them.
Who Else To Watch:
The scoring has not been as consistent though from A.J. Turner and Evansville graduate transfer Ryan Taylor. Turner, a 6-7 forward who spent two seasons at Boston College, is another forward who can pass the ball. However, he has struggled shooting the ball at times. That was not the case against DePaul on December 8th though when he scored 24 points and went 6-of-10 shooting from three-point land. Taylor is capable of those big games too as he proved many times in the MVC and occasionally early on during his Big Ten career, but they have not come consistently.
Oklahoma is on a roll right now, but this is a tough true road game. Welsh-Ryan Arena is not always the most difficult place to play, but compared to Oklahoma’s other true road games this season, it will be the toughest environment and the toughest road opponent the Sooners have seen so far this year. So there will be some issues for Oklahoma, but they should head into the big game against Kansas with a 10-1 record.