Saturday, February 23, 2013

Northwestern at Purdue: Does Anyone Care?

When Northwestern last played Purdue the Wildcats moved to 4-6 in the Big Ten with a couple winnable games on the horizon and still possessed an outside shot at the NCAA Tournament. Now the ‘Cats travel to Purdue devoid of any NCAA hopes (save a run in the Big Ten Tournament) and coming off of four straight losses the last two of which were about the worst basketball NU could play. Purdue hasn’t been much better of late and as a result this becomes a game which is not of any great interest to fans. Honestly, I’m at a loss about what to think in regards to NU basketball. Last year was an emotional roller coaster with huge highs and lows, but at least the overall ride was enjoyable once you got to the end. Since that victory over Purdue this year has pretty much just been a downhill ride and one which (based on the attendance at Welsh-Ryan Arena) many fans have simply chosen to get off.

Because Purdue hasn’t been good of late either I kind of find myself optimistic about this game, but only kind of as the Illinois game last Sunday essentially destroyed my optimism for NU at this point. It’s just hard to watch or expect much from a team that has essentially stopped scoring. Nobody on the Wildcats has been able to hit a shot as of late and as a result they’ve really struggled. It also seems like the team tends to give up if shots don’t go in early which is why the scores of late have been so one sided.

Purdue hasn’t been much of a scoring threat lately either, but they do have center A.J. Hammons who can control the paint. NU gave up way too many offensive rebounds to Wisconsin on Wednesday and unless the ‘Cats can contain Hammons you can probably expect a similar result on Sunday. Alex Olah needs to get back in the starting lineup and I’d like to see Nikola Cerina get some meaningful PT as well. In the end, though, the ‘Cats will need offense from guys like Dave Sobolewski, Tre Demps, and Alex Marcotullio if they want to get a victory and end the losing streak. I don’t think it’ll happen.

Prediction: Purdue scores just enough to beat Northwestern. Purdue, 56 Northwestern, 46

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