The Matchup: Central Connecticut State (3-5) @ Northwestern (9-1)
Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, IL)
TV: www.bigtennetwork.com for $2.99(7:00 PM Tuesday December 22nd)
Radio: WIND 560 AM
Fun Fact: With their tallest player standing 6-6 and only playing 14.4 minutes per game the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils are the smallest team NU will face.
About the Game
When taking a first glance at Central Connecticut State’s stats it appears the Blue Devils could potentially a bit more of a challenge to NU than the Wildcats previous non-major opponents. However, the Blue Devils have virtually no size and their schedule has yet to feature a major-conference foe. In the past even those facts might not have stopped CCSU from scaring NU fans, but this year Northwestern has taken care of business against all the teams they should beat. In fact, other than one close call against Tennessee State the ‘Cats have used most of their matchups with non-major conference teams to get some playing time for non starters. I’d expect something similar against CCSU.
The place where I think NU should try to attack the Blue Devils is in the post. As noted above, the tallest player on the CCSU roster is 6-6 freshman forward Joe Efese who plays only 14.4 minutes per game. The tallest player who gets regular playing is 6-5 junior David Simmons. Simmons does average 8.5 rebounds per game, but his 16 rebound performance against Albany probably won’t be repeated against John Shurna and the Wildcat front court. Aside from using Shurna, it would be good for the Wildcats to try and attack the post with Luka Mirkovic and Kyle Rowley. NU won’t be able to rely on three point shooting every night and it would be good to have an option other than Shurna who can score in the post. Certainly Simmons isn’t JaJuan Johnson, but it would be good for Rowley to work on his moves.
6-0 junior guard Shemik Thompson is the leading scorer for the Blue Devils at 14 ppg, but he isn’t much of a three point shooter, making only 27.3% of his threes. He does have 17 steals to lead a team which is very aggressive on defense. The best shooter on Blue Devil roster is Robby Ptacek who scores 12.5 ppg and makes 44.4% of his threes. The other shooter on the Blue Devil roster is 5-10 guard Vince Rosario who through only making 28.6% of his threes has already taken 42 three point shots.
I think NU will use this game to work on getting the ball in the post and to continue to improve the matchup zone. That might slow down the scoring a bit and allow CCSU to get some easier baskets than they should, but NU will in the end record a double digit win. Northwestern, 80 CCSU, 65