Northwestern will play an exhibition game vs the University of Chicago tomorrow night. At one time this was a conference game but now UC is a division three team. The teams have met in regular seasons games since Chicago left the B1G but this contest is simply an exhibition in which I expect NU to use all of the 15 players on the roster. The end result could be a close game or even a Chicago win, but I'm not worried about the final score of this game. I'm much more concerned with seeing what combination Coach Bill Carmody puts on the court first and what players get some run off the bench. I'm also interested in seeing what the newcomers look like and seeing how comfortable they looking running the NU version of the Princeton Offense. I suspect transfers Nikola Cernia and Jared Swopshire will pick up what Coach Carmody wants them to do, but freshman center Alex Olah is a critical player for NU's tournament chances and how well he plays and how many points he produces could make a huge difference for the Wildcats.
Another guy who I think is critical for NU and who I can't wait to see on Wednesday is redshirt freshman guard Tre Demps. Dave Sobolewski had a great freshman year for Northwestern, but I feel like playing 36 minutes a game kind of led to him showing signs of fatigue down the stretch. Demps might be the guy who gives NU a solid backup point guard for the first time in my memory. That means Sobo can get a break for 10 minutes a game and be much energized down the stretch of games and in the stretch of the long Big Ten season. Demps was regarded as something of a guy who could score going at the hoop and hit an open shot if needed when he was recruited out of Reagan High School in Texas. If he brings those skills that'll be a nice compliment for what NU has in Sobo as well as his backcourt mates Reggie Hearn and Drew Crawford.
Finally, I hope NU plays man to man defense in this game. Yes, the 1-3-1 will be used by the 'Cats during the season but being able to play solid man to man defense might help NU vs some of their Big Ten opposition who has now seen the 1-3-1 for several years. I also wouldn't be shocked to see NU redeploy their match up zone which was a stable of Carmody's early years in Evanston but which hasn't been used as regularly in recent seasons.