Jan. 22, 2011
Northwestern (13-5, 3-4 Big Ten) vs. #18/17 Wisconsin (14-4, 4-2)
Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011
Evanston, Ill. 11:30 a.m.
TV: Big Ten Network (Brian Anderson and Shon Morris)
Audio: WYLL 1160 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 121 and XM 141
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Sunday's battles between teams from the states of Illinois and Wisconsin tip off at 11:30 a.m. at Welsh-Ryan Arena as Northwestern and Wisconsin square off in Big Ten action.
Please note the 11:30 a.m. tip time which is a change from the previously published noon start. The change was made to accommodate fans who would also like to watch the National Football League's NFC Championship game between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears which kicks off at 2:05 p.m. at Soldier Field.
At No. 18 in the Associated Press poll and No. 17 in the USA Today/Coaches poll, the Badgers mark the fifth ranked foe the Wildcats will have faced in their first eight conference games.
NU is coming off a convincing 98-55 home win over SIU Edwardsville on Thursday. Five Wildcats scored in double figures while three others added nine points apiece. Drew Crawford led the way with 16 points, while Luka Mirkovic added 15. Northwestern eclipsed 90 points for the sixth time this season, the highest total since the 1970-71 campaign. The 98 points were the most since a 100-89 victory over Wisconsin March 6, 1993.
Sunday's matchup features two of the top teams in the nation in terms of both protecting the basketball and setting up their teammates. Wisconsin is first in the nation with a 1.74 assist-to-turnover ratio, while NU is third at 1.68. The Badgers also rank first with a norm of only 8.1 turnovers per game while the 'Cats are ninth at 10.9 miscues per game.
Wisconsin won a pair of close meetings a year ago, 60-50 Jan. 13 in Evanston and 70-63 Feb. 21 in Madison.
The Badgers (14-4, 4-2) overcame a four-point halftime deficit to earn a 69-60 home win over Indiana Thursday night. Jordan Taylor led Wisconsin with a career-high 28 points.
Jon Leuer leads the team with averages of 19.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, while Taylor is second with 17.6 points per contest.
Bo Ryan has a 231-86 record in 10 seasons at Wisconsin and a 614-189 mark in 27 overall seasons as a head coach.
Setting the Standard
With a victory over SIU Edwardsville Thursday night, this year's senior class matched last year's class for the Northwestern record for most victories by one class of 58. The 37 combined wins by the Wildcats over the previous two seasons are a school record for back-to-back campaigns.
Shurna Named to Wooden Award Midseason Award Top 30
John Shurna is one of 30 individuals named to the midseason top 30 list for the Wooden Award which is presented to the nation's top college basketball player. He is one of six Big Ten players on the list, joining Purdue's E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, Illinois' Demetri McCamey, Wisconsin's Jon Leuer and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger. Shurna was also named to the preseason watch list for the Naismith Award which is a similar honor.
Climbing the Charts
Senior point guard Michael Thompson currently has 1,394 career points, ranking him ninth in Northwestern history. He started the season in 21st place. Thompson is 13 points shy of tying Shon Morris for eighth place. The Chicago native also has 464 career assists. He surpassed Patrick Baldwin (1991-94) for first place in school history Jan. 15 at Michigan State. Thompson became the second player in NU history to post 400 career assists when he reached the milestone Nov. 30 in a win over Georgia Tech. He also ranks second all-time at Northwestern with 224 3-point field goals and 113 games started.
It's a rare thing when Michael Thompson isn't on the court for Northwestern. On Jan. 12 at Iowa, he became the school's all-time leader in minutes played, surpassing Jim Stack (1979-83). He eclipsed 4,000 minutes for his career Jan. 20 vs. SIU Edwardsville. Last season, Thompson ranked fourth in the nation with an average of 37.7 minutes played per game. His average of 35.8 minutes per game this season ranks second in the Big Ten. Thompson has started all 113 games during his career as a Wildcat.
For the second consecutive season, Northwestern started its campaign with at least nine wins in its first 11 games. A year ago, NU opened 10-1 en route to earning a No. 25 national ranking. Prior to last season, the Wildcats last posted nine wins in their first 11 contests in the 1993-94 campaign. This year's team matched last year's squad which also notched a school-record five wins (5-1) in the month of November. The 2010-11 'Cats finished the program's first undefeated November when playing at least three games.
Northwestern has long been known for its accurate 3-point shooting. The Wildcats rank 18th in the nation with a .402 3-point percentage this season. NU is also fifth nationally with an average of 9.5 made 3-pointers per game. Individually, John Shurna is recognized by the NCAA as the nation's leader with a .548 3-point percentage. Shurna's 10-for-11 performance overall from the field in a win over Long Island Dec. 13 ranks as a tie for the second-best effort in program history.
Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats lead the Big Ten and rank eighth in the nation with an average of 18.3 assists per game. NU's assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.66 (305 assists, 184 turnovers) is the nation's fifth-best mark. The 'Cats are also ninth nationally with an average of only 10.9 turnovers per game.
A year after shattering the school season record with 317 3-point makes, the Wildcats have picked up right where they left off. NU leads the Big Ten and is fifth nationally with an average of 9.5 3-point makes per game this season. John Shurna ranks third among all Big Ten players with an average of 2.7 triples per contest.
A year after leading the Big Ten in scoring during conference play, Northwestern is putting a number of points on the board again this year. The Wildcats currently rank second in the Big Ten and 26th nationally with an average of 78.2 points per game. NU has scored over 90 points in a game six times this season, the most since the 1970-71 campaign when it also reached the mark six times. Northwestern had scored 90 points in a game just twice in Bill Carmody's first 10 seasons as head coach.
Scoring Spree, Part 2
Northwestern's 93-81 victory over Indiana Jan. 9 marked the team's most points in a Big Ten game since a 97-93 overtime win over No. 8 Michigan on March 12, 1994. Coupled with a 90-71 victory at Iowa Jan. 12, it marked NU's first time scoring at least 90 points in consecutive Big Ten games since Jan. 3 and 10, 1970 vs. Michigan (L, 96-92) and at Michigan State (L, 98-93), respectively. The Wildcats' 98 points against SIU Edwardsville Jan. 20 were their most since a 100-89 win over Wisconsin March 6, 1993.
Northwestern hits the road as it travels to Minnesota on Wednesday. Tip time is set for 7:30 p.m.
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