The Matchup: Tennessee State (0-2) @ Northwestern (1-1)
Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, IL)
TV: www.bigtennetwork.com for $2.99 (1:00 PM November 21st)
Radio: WGN 720 AM
Fun Fact: This is the first game of the 4th annual Chicago Invitational Challenge.
About the Game
Northwestern enters this contest coming off a 67-54 loss to #11 Butler while Tennessee State enters coming off an 85-57 loss to Northern Illinois. With the Wildcats having defeated NIU 77-55 in their opener it is pretty clear which team will enter this game a substantial favorite. Given that NU should totally overmatch TSU in every phase of the game, this contest becomes more about how Northwestern plays than what TSU does.
Northwestern could probably win this game even if they play poorly, but given as poor as NU played against Butler, they need to play well in order to get some momentum back. This is especially true of center Luka Mirkovic who posted 15 points and 5 rebounds against NIU, but struggled mightily against Butler center Matt Howard. With TSU’s tallest player being 6-8 Illinois native Robert Covington, Mirkovic and his fellow center Kyle Rowley should be able to get on a bit more of a roll.
Another Wildcat who needs to step up and who can take advantage of the weaker TSU squad is Drew Crawford. Crawford has shown great athletic skill on defense, but has really struggled in getting into the flow on offense. I think he can perhaps take advantage of those superior athletic skills to have a good confidence building game against the Tigers.
Finally, Jeremy Nash could use a rebound game as well. He exploded against NIU, but Butler kept him off the free throw line and forced him to shoot threes which didn’t fall. If Nash wants to be a serious scoring threat he needs to start hitting his threes.
As for the TSU Tigers, they are led by freshman guard Jacquan Nobles who scored 21 points off the bench versus Northern Illinois. He might get the start on Sunday. Robert Covington is from Bellwood, IL and is the tallest player the Tigers have. He averages 13 points per game. The other big scorers for the Tigers are Josh Sain at 12.5 ppg and Darius Cox with 10ppg.
Prediction: The fact is Northwestern should win this game easy. The key will be how easy the NU win is. If the ‘Cats play like they did against Butler, then they’ll probably limp to a low double-digit victory. If they actually play team offense and rotate in their zone defense I think NU can handily beat Tennessee State. I can the result being fairly strongly in NU’s favor: Northwestern, 78 Tennessee State, 54