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Game Time: 8:00pm CT
Location: AllState Arena, Rosemont, IL
Radio: 1620AM the Zone in Omaha / 1000AM in Chicago
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InsideNU - Northwestern
Creighton - Rob Anderson / Creighton MBB / Tom Nemitz / “Patrick Marshall” / Matt DeMarinis / Corey Lathrop / Jon Nyatawa / Fake Blue Crew / Bluejay Banter
Odds & Ends
Creighton is a 3 point underdog to Northwestern according to OddsShark.
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The Bluejays and Wildcats have met 5 times in their basketball histories, with Northwestern holding a 3-2 lead in the series.
Not only is this an opportunity for sweet, sweet revenge, it’s also an opportunity for the Jays to tie this thing up at .500 even. There’s a lot more on the line than you think, folks.
The last meeting between the two occurred on 12/22/11, a game that Creighton won 87-79. A fresh faced Doug McDermott scored 27 points on 10-14 shooting that fateful day, forever leaving his mark on this not really historic rivalry that’ll soon be washed away by the end of this evening.
The two teams played a couple times in Chicago in the 60’s, offering up a split.
The third time the two met was in the desert of Tempe in the ‘Tribune Classic,’ a game that the Wildcats won 76-52
A home-and-home organically commenced and the Jays traveled to Chicago only to get whooped up on by the Wildcats 65-52. This was in McDermott’s first year of coaching and the other McDermott’s freshman year on the court. A ragtag team featuring Darryl Ashford, Kaleb Korever, Wayne Runnels, and Kenny Lawson Jr., would go on to post a record of 23-16.
Verba de Ludis
Northwestern struggled in their first two games of the season
Against Loyola-Maryland, a team that ranks 240th in Kenpom, Northwestern managed to pull off a 79-75 win. The Wildcats held the lead throughout the first half, building it to a 37-24 at the half.
Northwestern then promptly fell asleep at halftime, failing to make any adjustments, while Loyola-Maryland capitalized on the opportunity, going on a 31-18 run out of the half. The Greyhounds were within 3 points of a team that gave Gonzaga a run for its money in last year’s tournament.
Then, slowly but surely, Northwestern held their lead. It’s as if they were daring Loyola to try to win this game, like they were begging them to try to upset them. They toyed with them, then came out with a win.
Northwestern proceeded to do this exact same exercise against St. Peter’s, never really running away with it but keeping it close enough to be entertaining. Perhaps that’s what Northwestern’s goal is this year: make interesting basketball.
This is a frightening ordeal for the Bluejays. Though the Jays got challenged a bit by the Elis, the end was never really in doubt. Against a team like Northwestern, a team that’s rock solid top to bottom, the Jays are going to have to grind this game out, something they haven’t done since they were tooling around in Madison Square Garden last season.
On the other hand, Northwestern hasn’t seen an offense quite like Creighton’s... ever. The closest they came last season, as far as a similar eFG% and average time of possession, was Wake Forest early on in the season (7th in efficiency, 96th in avg t.o.p).
Think of Northwestern as a more defensive version of Butler. Both are routinely efficient on offense, eating up clock, and setting a half court offense to maximize the highest percentage shot. Yet on defense, Northwestern doesn’t force a lot of turnovers or cause a great deal of havoc. They’re opportunistic in their man-to-man, and if they can get a turnover, all the better. They’re more focused on making shots uncomfortable and causing your FG% to tank.
A battle of attrition.
The Wildcats have a lot of size in their lineup, with a skilled passer-scorer in Bryant McIntosh at point. He poured in 17 points against St. Peters, and is an adept defender as well. He’s about as well rounded as they come, which will give an advantage to the Wildcats.
Speaking of advantages, the Wildcats will deploy 6’8 235lb center Derek Pardon against the Bluejays’ Martin Krampelj. This is another matchup that heavily favors the Wildcats, as Pardon is another highly skilled offensive player.
A name to watch for is Cameron Jones, a hired gun off the bench that can pour in threes. He went 5-8 from the field against St. Peters and will likely be a matchup against a guy like Mitchell Ballock. Two young bench shooters going at it seems like some stupid ‘Like Mike’ sequel but it isn’t and it’ll be fun to watch.
Northwestern will round things out with 6’5 guard Scottie Lindsey, forwards Gavin Skelly and Vic Law, the latter at 6’8 and 6’7.
Kenpom has the Jays losing this one 81-76 with a 33% chance to win. I’d say that’s a pretty fair assessment.
If the Jays are going to win, they’re going to need to score early and often, string Northwestern out, and take them wire-to-wire. There’s no coming back against these Wildcats.