The Matchup: Texas-Pan America (1-15) @ Northwestern (10-3)
Location: Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, IL)
TV: www.bigtennetwork.com for $2.99
Radio: WIND 560AM
Fun Fact: Two possible UTA starters Julius Hearn and Matt Mierzycki are from the Chicago area.
About the Game
On paper this game doesn’t seem like much of a contest. Northwestern is competing for its first NCAA Tournament bid in history and has played well at home other than losses to a top-25 Butler team and the disaster contest Saturday versus Michigan State. The Wildcats also have Big Ten Player of the week John Shurna. On the other hand, the UTPA Broncs don’t have a player who scores in double figures and have serious problems winning on the road.
UTPA’s leading scorer at just over 9 points per game is Jared Maree. Maree is a 6-3 guard from Houston, Texas who makes just about 40% of his shots from the field and from three point range. The leading rebounder for the Broncs is a Chicago area product. Junior Forward Matt Mierzycki went to high school at Glenbrook South before playing two years for Parkland Community College. Mierzycki has only played 7 games so far this year and was originally planning to redshirt, but the Broncos coaching staff inserted the 6-6 forward against Texas and he has been in the starting lineup most of the games since. He is the only Broncs player with more than 5 rebounds per game.
Looking at how the much smaller Broncs might attack NU, guard Ben Smith shoots a ton of threes, but makes less than 33%. His teammate Nick Weiermiller also likes to shot the three (about 50% of his shot attempts), however, like Smith his percentage of made threes is in the low 30% range. As a team, the Broncs have struggled to make threes this year.
The best overall player on the Broncs is probably 6-7 forward Luis Valera scores about 9 points per game and averages a bit short of five boards. He is also the only Broncs started to covert more than 50% of his field goal attempts.
This game shouldn’t be much of a contest. I expect Northwestern to work on what they need to do in order to win a tough Big Ten game coming up at Michigan. If I were Bill Carmody I would have my guys put emphasis on defense and not forcing bad threes with a ton of time on the shot clock. Northwestern, 89 UTPA, 54