March 9, 2013
The Last Meeting
|#6/7 Michigan State||74
January 14, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern brings its 2012-13 regular season to a close Sunday as it travels to East Lansing, Mich., to take on No. 10/12 Michigan State. Tip-off is set for 5 p.m. Central time.
Big Ten Network is providing live television coverage while the game can be heard on AM 560 and wgnradio.com.
The Wildcats dropped their home finale to Penn State on Thursday, 66-59. On Senior Night, Alex Marcotullio posted career bests of 22 points and six 3-pointers in his final collegiate home game. Marcotullio's sixth triple gave NU a 54-53 lead with 6:15 left, but the 'Cats were outscored 13-5 the rest of the way.
Northwestern will be the No. 11 seed for next week's Big Ten tournament and will face the sixth-seeded team in an opening-round matchup at approximately 8 p.m. Thursday. Entering play this weekend, NU's opponent could be either Minnesota, Illinois or Iowa.
Last meeting: John Shurna scored 22 points while Drew Crawford and Davide Curletti added 20 and 17, respectively, as Northwestern defeated No. 6 Michigan State 81-74 at Welsh-Ryan Arena Jan. 14, 2012.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE
The Spartans (23-7, 12-5) are still in contention to earn a share of the Big Ten regular season title pending the result of Sunday's game between Indiana and Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Michigan State cruised to a 58-43 home win over No. 22/21 Wisconsin on Thursday. Keith Appling paced MSU with 19 points. He leads the team with an average of 13.4 points per game, while Gary Harris contributes 13.2 points per contest.
Tom Izzo is in his 18th season as the head coach at Michigan State where he has a 435-176 record.
GOING OUT WITH A BANG
Alex Marcotullio saved his best for last against Penn State March 7. Appearing in his final home game at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Senior Night, Marcotullio drained a career-best six 3-pointer and scored a career-high 22 points. His previous high for 3-pointers in a game was five his freshman year against Chicago State March 3, 2010 and his previous scoring high was 18 points vs. Minnesota March 2, 2011. Marcotullio's 152 career 3-pointers rank eighth in school history while his 126 games played ranks third.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT PREVIEW
Northwestern is locked in to being the No. 11 seed for next week's Big Ten tournament at the United Center. The Wildcats will square off with the No. 6 seed at approximately 8 p.m. Entering play this weekend, NU's opponent could be either Minnesota, Illinois or Iowa. The 'Cats split their two meetings with the Gophers and the Illini while dropping both matchups with the Hawkeyes.
(H)EARNING HIS KEEP
Senior guard Reggie Hearn has taken his game to another level during his senior season. He tallied a team-high 20 points on Jan. 17 in leading Northwestern to a convincing 68-54 victory at then-No. 23/22 Illinois. It was the second straight year that Hearn scored 20 points in a victory at Assembly Hall. The Fort Wayne native followed up the performance by scoring a game-high 22 points against Indiana on Jan. 20 and then a career-high 26 points in a win over Purdue Feb. 2. The former walk-on leads the Wildcats and ranks 15th in the Big Ten with a scoring average of 13.4 points per game.
TAKING A HIT
Northwestern endured yet another season-ending injury when Jared Swopshire hurt his right knee at Iowa on Feb. 9 and then underwent arthroscopic surgery on Feb. 12 that ended his campaign. Swopshire joined a growing list of Wildcats who have been lost for the season including Drew Crawford (shoulder), JerShon Cobb (violations of team policy), Sanjay Lumpkin (wrist) and Chier Ajou (knee). Alex Olah also missed the Feb. 14 game at Ohio State due to an upper body injury suffered against Iowa.
DOING IT ON DEFENSE
Northwestern has taken a step forward defensively this season. The Wildcats are limiting their opponents to an average of 63.1 points per game after allowing 68.2 points per contest a year ago. NU is also holding its foes to a .425 field goal percentage. The 'Cats have held 10 of their opponents to below 40 percent shooting in a game. During the 2011-12 season, Northwestern's opponents shot 45.2 percent from the field. Three times this year (Texas Southern, Fairleigh Dickinson, TCU), the Wildcats have limited the opposition to 14 first-half points, while holding three others (Brown, Minnesota, Penn State) also under 20 points in the opening stanza. The 48 points scored by Minnesota on Jan. 23 were the Gophers' lowest total of the season at the time by 18 points and were the fewest allowed by NU in a Big Ten game since Illinois had 48 on Feb. 18, 2007.
DISHING IT OUT
Sophomore Dave Sobolewski has been in a giving mood so far this season. His average of 3.9 assists per game leads the team and ranks sixth in the Big Ten. The point guard handed out a career-best nine assists in Northwestern's season-opening win over Texas Southern Nov. 13 and then followed it up with eight helpers against Mississippi Valley State Nov. 15. A year ago, Sobolewski led the Big Ten and paced all nation's freshmen with a 2.63 assist-to-turnover ratio.
THE BIGS CAN DISH IT TOO
It's not only the guards in the Northwestern lineup who can set up their teammates. Mike Turner's eight assists at Ohio State Feb. 14 are tied for the fifth most in the nation this season by any player 6'8" or taller. Also, Alex Olah leads all players in the nation 7'0" or taller with an average of 2.0 assists per game.
Northwestern is well known for playing "team" offense and that's reflected in the statistics. The Wildcats ranked fourth in the nation with a 1.53 assist-to-turnover ratio last season and they're 22nd in the nation so far this year with a 1.35 ratio (439 assists, 326 turnovers). NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark in 2010-11. Northwestern ranks second in the country with a .709 assist percentage.
PROTECTING THE ROCK
NU is committing an average of just 10.9 turnovers per game, ranking 14th in the nation. Though the end result didn't go the way they would have liked, the Wildcats did a great job of taking care of the basketball against Maryland Nov. 27. Northwestern committed just four turnovers in the entire contest, the fewest since it committed three in an overtime game at Illinois on Dec. 30, 2009.
Northwestern led the Big Ten and ranked fifth nationally in 2011-12 with an average of 9.0 3-point makes per game. The Wildcats are tied for second in the Big Ten with an average of 7.6 makes this season and are 9-4 when they make at least eight shots from behind the arch.
Northwestern plays its opening round contest of the Big Ten tournament at approximately 8 p.m. Thursday against an opponent to be determined.
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