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Northwestern 2010 NIT Tournament Preview

 

Northwestern Wildcats - Big Ten Conference (20-13, 7-11)

Seed: #7 - Virginia Tech Bracket

Big Wins: 11/27 vs Notre Dame (72-58), 1/16 Purdue (72-64), 1/23 Illinois (73-68)

Bad Losses: 2/10 at Iowa (65-78), 2/17 Penn State (70-81), 3/6 at Indiana (80-88)

Coach: Bill Carmody



Probable Northwestern Starters:

  • Michael Thompson, Junior, Guard, 13.9 ppg, 4.1 apg

  • Jeremy Nash, Senior, Guard, 9.1 ppg, 3.1 apg, 1.7 spg

  • Drew Crawford, Freshman, Guard, 10.0 ppg, 1.8 apg, 4.1 rpg

  • John Shurna, Sophomore, Forward, 18.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.6 apg

  • Luka Mirkovic, Sophomore, Center, 7.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.4 apg

 

Key Northwestern Roleplayers:

  • Davide Curletti, Sophomore, Forward, 2.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg

  • Alex Marcotullio, Freshman, Guard, 4.9 ppg, 1.0 apg

  • Kyle Rowley, Sophomore, Center, 1.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg

 

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Why The Wildcats Can Surprise:
This Northwestern team does what every Northwestern team has done under Coach Bill Carmody. They run their style of the Princeton Offense and slow down the tempo, take care of the ball and shoot a lot of three-pointers. It is Michael Thompson’s job to make sure the machine runs smoothly. The junior point guard is a prolific outside shooter and can get to the basket and finish. At times his offensive game can become stagnant, but as long as he keeps the turnovers down, he is doing his job

The big concern heading into the 2009-2010 campaign was who was going to step up and fill the void left behind by the injuries to Kevin Coble and Jeff Ryan. John Shurna and Luka Mirkovic have certainly filled the void in the frontcourt. Shurna has turned into one of the best power forwards in the nation. Not only is he leading the team in rebounds, but he is easily leading the way with 18.3 points per game. His outside shooting ability makes him impossible to guard and he will even find the open man when the defense starts charging after him. Mirkovic can also hit the long range shot, but he spends more time in the paint than Shurna. His passing and shooting abilities have made him a perfect fit for this offense and he has had a great season as a starter despite expecting to be a backup heading into the season.

 

 

Why The Wildcats Can Disappoint:
It is nothing new to Northwestern, but the lack of rebounding remains a big issue. What makes it worse than usual is the depth problems that plague the Wildcats. Without Coble and Ryan, Coach Carmody goes seven deep on a good day. Kyle Rowley is a seven-footer who will give Mirkovic a break, but he averages less than ten minutes per game. When he is on the floor, Northwestern has a banger under the basket, but more often than not, the Wildcats need Mirkovic’s offense more than they need Rowley’s size and ability to hit the glass. There are a few other options down the bench, but the starting five has usually been playing at least 30 minutes per game down the stretch.

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Who To Watch for Northwestern:
Freshman Drew Crawford saved the offense. With few other options, Northwestern gave him a shot. It took a while for Crawford to find his place on the team, but by January he was consistently scoring in double figures. Jeremy Nash is not quite as explosive of a scorer as Crawford, but he does all the dirty work. He can score in a variety of ways, play great defense, hit the glass and even blocks some shots. Crawford and Nash are often overlooked on this team, but those two have to be productive for Northwestern to have any postseason success.

 

Northwestern By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 69.5 (159th in nation, 6th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 65.6 (102, 8)

Field-Goal Percentage: 43.7 (164, 7)

Field-Goal Defense: 42.3 (127, 7)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 9.5 (4, 1)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.4 (76, 3)

Free-Throw Percentage: 70.4 (120, 5)

Rebound Margin: -2.5 (268, 10)

Assists Per Game: 16.9 (10, 3)

Turnovers Per Game: 2.0 (59, 6)

 

Joel’s Bracket Says: Elite Eight loss to Virginia Tech

 

By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer

 

> Find more 2010 NIT Tournament coverage online from College Sports Fans and print your NCAA Tournament brackets today!

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