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    Northwestern Faces Minnesota in Big Ten Tournament Opening Round Thursday

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Michael Thompson and the Wildcats would face Indiana in the quarterfinals if they can knock off Minnesota.
    Michael Thompson and the Wildcats would face Indiana in the quarterfinals if they can knock off Minnesota.

    March 12, 2008

    NU Big Ten Tournament NotesGet Acrobat Reader

    EVANSTON, Ill. - It is said that it's difficult to beat the same team three times in the same season. Northwestern hopes that is the case as it faces a Minnesota team that defeated it twice during the regular season in the opening round of the 2008 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament. Tip-off is set for approximately 4 p.m. Central time Thursday at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

    ESPN2 is televising the game live with Brent Musburger, Steve Lavin and Erin Andrews on the call.

    The game can also be heard on WGN Radio (720 AM) with Dave Eanet and Bob Hildebrand.

    The Wildcats enter the tournament at the No. 11 seed, while the Golden Gophers are seeded sixth. NU is 1-1 all-time vs. Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament. NU won the most recent meeting 76-64 in an opening round game March 13, 2003 in Chicago.

    Northwestern is 4-10 all-time in Big Ten tournament play. The Wildcats dropped a tight decision 62-57 to Michigan State in last year's tournament.

    Series History: Minnesota leads, 96-57
    Last Meeting: Kevin Coble led Northwestern with 22 points and Michael Thompson and Craig Moore added 19 each, but it wasn't enough as Minnesota downed the Wildcats 92-72 Feb. 6 in Evanston.

    Last Time Out
    Northwestern wasn't quite able to prevent No. 10 Wisconsin from winning the Big Ten regular season title outright, falling to the Badgers 65-52 at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Kevin Coble paced the Wildcats with 17 points, while Michael Thompson added 13 points and five assists. Brian Butch scored 20 points and matched his career-high with 14 rebounds for the Badgers. Northwestern hung right with Wisconsin in the opening half of play as it found itself down just one at 21-20 with 5:27 left on a layup by Thompson. But the Badgers clamped down defensively and held NU scoreless the remainder of the half while scoring the final eight points before the intermission to take a 29-20 advantage. The Wildcats remained within striking distance down eight at 37-29 with 14:50 remaining before Wisconsin made its decisive run. Ten straight points by the visitors over a four-minute span extended their advantage to 18. Northwestern went on a late 8-0 run, but it wasn't enough to prevent Wisconsin from claiming the conference title all to itself. The Wildcats forced the Badgers into 16 turnovers.

    Coble, Moore Earn All-Big Ten Honors
    Sophomore forward Kevin Coble and junior guard Craig Moore were honored as honorable mention selections when the All-Big Ten teams were announced Monday. Moore was picked by the conference's media media members, while Coble was a selection of both the media and the coaches. Coble was the Big Ten's fifth-leading scorer during conference play, averaging 15.2 points per game, including a pair of 30-plus point performances. Moore had a stellar all-around season. In league play he finished first in 3-point makes per game (3.11), second in steals (1.94) and 10th in scoring (13.1). Both players had previously been named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.

    Scouting Minnesota
    • Minnesota (18-12, 8-10) took both matchups from the Wildcats during the regular season, winning 82-63 in Minneapolis Jan. 9 and then 92-72 in Evanston Feb. 6.

    • The Golden Gophers lead the Big Ten in steals, averaging 9.13 per game. Freshman Al Nolen finished second in the contest with a norm of 2.03 per game. They are also first with a .379 team 3-point field goal percentage.

    •Minnesota dropped two straight games to wrap up the regular season, including a 67-58 defeat Saturday at Illinois in its finale. Blake Hoffarber came off the bench to lead the Gophers with 14 points.

    Kevin Coble averaged 19.5 points per game in the two regular-season meetings with Minnesota this season.

    Up Next...
    The winner of the game between the Wildcats and Minnesota will face third-seeded Indiana in a quarterfinal round game at approximately 8 p.m. Central time Friday.