Feb. 20, 2012
Northwestern (16-10, 6-8 Big Ten) vs. #11/13 Michigan (20-7, 10-4 Big Ten)
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2011
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Evanston, Ill. 7 p.m.
TV: Big Ten Network (Dave Revsine and Shon Morris)
Audio: WSCR 670 AM and wgnradio.com (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
Skip Myslenski Game Preview
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern looks to defend its home court in its penultimate home game of the season Tuesday as it squares off against No. 11/13 Michigan. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. from Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Wildcats have won four of their last six, including a 64-53 home win over Minnesota last Saturday. John Shurna scored 18 points in the contest to become NU's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Billy McKinney (1974-77). Northwestern forced 19 turnovers by Minnesota which it converted into 24 points. Dave Sobolewski tallied a game-high 22 points for the Wildcats.
Tuesday's contest features the top two freshmen point guards in the Big Ten. Sobolewski averages 9.4 points per game, including 10.8 in Big Ten play, to go along with 3.7 assists per contest and the nation's third-best assist-to-turnover ratio (3.13). Michigan's Trey Burke posts norms of 14.1 points and 4.8 assists per game.
Last Meeting: Northwestern led by as many as 10 in the second half, but host Michigan rallied back to force overtime before earning a 66-64 win Jan. 11 in Ann Arbor. John Shurna led the Wildcats with 21 points.
The Wolverines (20-7, 10-4) are coming off a 56-51 home win over No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday. Trey Burke had a team-high 17 points, while Jordan Morgan had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Tim Hardaway Jr. paces Michigan with an average of 14.3 points per game, while Burke contributes 14.1 per contest.
Michigan ranks second in the Big Ten to only Northwestern with an average of 8.0 3-point field goals per game.
John Beilein is in his fifth season as the head coach at Michigan where he has an 87-74 record. He is 638-392 in 35 seasons overall as a head coach, including 563-349 at four-year schools.
ALONE AT THE TOP
Northwestern's scoring record of 1,900 career points had stood since 1977 when Billy McKinney completed his collegiate eligibility. That was until Feb. 18 when John Shurna hit a 3-pointer with 10:48 remaining in the second half of a home game against Minnesota, giving him 1,902 for his career. Shurna scored a school single-season record 619 points as a sophomore and 531 points last season as a junior. He is the active Big Ten career leader with 40 games of scoring 20 or more points. Shurna has scored at least 30 points in a game three times this season, the most by a Northwestern player since Eschmeyer posted at least 30 points five times during the 1997-98 campaign.
MORE THAN JUST A SCORER
For all of the recognition that John Shurna gets for his scoring, he has proven that he's a pretty solid all-around player as well. Shurna currently ranks third in school history with 125 blocked shots, including a career-high five against Minnesota last Saturday. His 44 blocks this season are the fourth most in a single season in school history. Shurna is also eighth all-time at Northwestern with 271 career assists and he ranks eighth in the Big Ten with an average of 5.6 rebounds per game and 13th with 1.3 steals per contest this season.
WILDCATS IN THE RPI RANKINGS
Northwestern is ranked No. 43 nationally in the RPI through games played Sunday. Northwestern has top-75 wins over Michigan State (2), Seton Hall (34), LSU (63) Illinois (69) and Minnesota (72). NU has the sixth-best RPI in the Big Ten, trailing Michigan State, Ohio State (7), Michigan (14), Indiana (19) and Wisconsin (23).
Northwestern enters Tuesday's game with a 6-8 Big Ten record, but isn't far away from being much better. The 'Cats have lost four of their league games by a total of 10 points, falling to Illinois at home by one, at Michigan and at home vs. Purdue by two apiece and at Indiana by five.
SUCCESS UNDER CARMODY
In head coach Bill Carmody's 12 seasons in Evanston, the Wildcats have now recorded at least six Big Ten victories eight times. The program totaled six or more conference wins just five times in the previous 31 years prior to Carmody's arrival.
Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats rank second in the nation with a 1.53 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark a year ago. NU ranks fourth in the country with an average of just 10.2 turnovers per contest. Northwestern is assisting on 64.8 percent of its made field goals, the eighth-highest percentage nationally.
We're not sure which one is Batman and which one is Robin, but senior John Shurna and junior Drew Crawford have already shown that they form a pretty formidable 1-2 punch. Shurna leads the Big Ten with an average of 20.2 points per game, while Crawford is the Big Ten's fourth-leading scorer with a norm of 16.6 points per contest.
Northwestern hits the road Saturday as it travels to Penn State. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. Central time.
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