The Matchup: North Florida (1-5) @ Northwestern (7-1)
Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, IL)
TV: ESPNU (8:00 PM Wednesday December 16th)
Radio: WIND 560 AM
Fun Fact: NU won the last meeting between these two teams 40-39 on a Kevin Coble putback of a Craig Moore missed three in 2006.
About the Game
Northwestern enters this game holding down the #31 spot in the AP Poll and sitting at 7-1. North Florida enters 1-5 overall and 0-5 away from UNF Arena. The question here is can Northwestern continue to take care of business and beat weaker teams as they have so far this year? If NU is going to do so they have to stop UNF’s Stan Januska. Januska is a 6-6 guard who transferred to UNF from Morehead State and leads the Ospreys with 11.2 points per game. He is the only Osprey to average double figures. For the season more than half of Januska’s made shots have been threes and he has hit 51.9% of those three point shots.
Other key Osprey players will be two other guards that have shown good range from three. Freshman Jerron Granberry scores 8.8 ppg and has made 47.4% of his threes. Senior Eni Cuka makes 38.9% of his threes off the bench. NU Coach Bill Carmody stressed trying to master the 2-3 matchup zone against North Carolina A&T and with Januska’s shooting ability NU may want to avoid the 1-3-1 against the Ospreys as well.
One positive this year for Northwestern has been how the Wildcats have greatly improved their rebounding and they should have a chance to improve those numbers even more against UNF. 6-7 freshman Andy Diaz leads the Ospreys in rebounding with only 4.5 per game. At 6-7 he is also tied with sophomore Matt Sauey (6.8 ppg and 3.0 rpg) and reserve junior Kyle Groothuis as the tallest UNF players.
The small Osprey team will be a potentially good “get well” game from an NU front court which has struggled. Kyle Rowley picked up 5 fouls in just minutes on Sunday and Luka Mirkovic has been inconsistent on offense all year. As much as I love seeing Michael Thompson, Drew Crawford, Jeremy Nash, and Alex Marcotullio hit threes, if NU wants to compete in the Big Ten they need inside scoring from someone other than 6-8 John Shurna.
Of the players on NU’s healthy roster only Jeremy Nash played the last time these teams meet, but most NU fans will recall sweating out the near disaster as NU just barely came away with a victory. This time I think NU fans will be able to breathe a little easier during the contest. I’m not sure the Wildcats can top Sunday’s scoring performance, but I still think the folks at Welsh-Ryan Arena and watching on ESPNU will be pleased. Northwestern, 85 UNF, 58