The fact is that right now Northwestern is overmatched in virtually any game they play. Hopefully Reggie Hearn and Nikola Cerina will return at 100% soon, but years of being a Northwestern fan make me wonder about the likelihood of that occurrence. Regardless, the disappointment of NU’s loss to Michigan wasn’t the fact that NU lost badly—it was the fact NU didn’t seem to play with the intensity one would have assumed was necessary when playing a top-5 team in that nation. Maybe the reason for that was simply the fact that due to the team’s injuries that NU was playing a number of guys who never played a Big Ten game before and they were surprised by what they experience was like. I don’t know, but I do know that NU has to display more intensity (especially on defense) or what we saw vs Michigan will be the same in virtually every game.
NU now goes on the road to play at Minnesota. The positive is that NU has played better on the road this year than at home, but the fact is that Minnesota is a team which is way more talented than Northwestern. In fact, I’ve probably been more impressed with Minnesota than any other Big Ten team this year. I like the Gophers athletes up front and they play good defense as a team. Most concerning for NU is the Gophers 41 rebounds a game average. I’m thinking that Minnesota might be able to score every possession if they don’t turn the ball over as I’m not sure Northwestern will be able get any rebounds vs Rodney Williams, Trevor Mbakwe, and the rest of the super-athletic Gophers.
On offense Minnesota balances their scoring with four players Williams, Austin Hollins, Andre Hollins, and Joe Coleman all in double figures. Williams is the type of guy who scores a lot on putbacks and lobs because he’s so athletic, but the other guys can score in multiple ways and have the ability to knock down shots.
I’m not really sure what the best defense for NU to play vs Minnesota would be, but it better be one which shows some effort and hustle. On offense, NU should return to the slow-paced burn offense and if nothing else should at least keep the game low scoring. If NU shoots a high percentage from three then that slow pace will give them a chance.
Prediction: I think Minnesota wins this game with second chance points, but NU slowing down the game keeps the score below 70. Minnesota, 68 Northwestern, 52