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    Wildcats Open Big Ten Tourney Play Against Hawkeyes

    Tre Demps had 11 of the 39 points scored by freshmen for Northwestern at Michigan State on Sunday.

    Tre Demps had 11 of the 39 points scored by freshmen for Northwestern at Michigan State on Sunday.

    March 12, 2013

    2013 Big Ten Tournament Bracket (PDF)

    Skip Myslenski's Preview

    Iowa Previews: Sobolewski | Marcotullio | Carmody

     Big Ten Tournament - Northwestern (13-18) vs. Iowa (20-11)
     Date  Thursday, March 14 | 8 p.m.
     Location  United Center  | Chicago, Ill.
     Tournament Website
     Watch Live  ESPN2 and WatchESPN (Mike Tirico, Dan Dakich and Samantha Ponder)
     Listen  AM 560 and (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
     Live Stats  Gametracker
     Social Media  @NUMensBball   |  Facebook
     Game Notes  Northwestern  |  Iowa

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern, the No. 11 seed, opens up play at the 2013 Big Ten Tournament at 8 p.m. Thursday as it takes on sixth-seeded Iowa at the United Center in Chicago.

    The winner of Thursday's matchup advances to take on third-seeded Michigan State in Friday's quarterfinal round.

    The Wildcats and the Hawkeyes have met just once before in Big Ten tournament play. Iowa posted a 72-55 win March 8, 2001 at the United Center.

    Northwestern played toe-to-toe with No. 10/12 Michigan State in the regular season finale on Sunday before falling 71-61. The contest was tied 53-53 with just over five minutes left before the host Spartans went on the decisive run. Kale Abrahamson led four NU players in double figures with 16 points.

    Regular Season: Iowa won both regular-season matches, snapping a five-game losing streak to the Wildcats. The Hawkeyes won 70-50 Jan. 13 in Evanston before posting a 71-57 victory Feb. 9 in Iowa City.

    • The Hawkeyes (20-11, 9-9 Big Ten) finished up their regular season with a 74-60 home win over Nebraska on Saturday. Aaron White led Iowa with 19 points.
    • Roy Devyn Marble leads the team with an average of 14.1 points per game, while White contributes 13.6 points and a team-leading 6.2 rebounds per contest.
    • Fran McCaffery is in his third season as the head coach at Iowa where he has a 49-48 record. He is 300-225 in 17 seasons overall as a head coach.

    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 155 career 3-pointers rank eighth in school history while his 127 games played ranks third.

    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 13.2 points per game. Hearn was recognized as an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the media this season.

    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.

    Northwestern has taken a step forward defensively this season. The Wildcats are limiting their opponents to an average of 63.4 points per game after allowing 68.2 points per contest a year ago. NU is also holding its foes to a .430 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.

    Sophomore Dave Sobolewski has been in a giving mood 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.

    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 17th in the nation so far this year with a 1.36 ratio (453 assists, 333 turnovers). NU ranked second nationally to only Wisconsin with a 1.70 mark in 2010-11. Northwestern ranks second in the country with a .705 assist percentage.

    NCAA Assist Percentage Leaders-- Through Games Played March 10
    1. Denver - .714
    2. Northwestern - .705
    3. Ohio - .690
    4. Notre Dame - .673
    5. New Mexico - .663

    NU is committing an average of just 10.7 turnovers per game, ranking ninth 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 third 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.

    UP NEXT...
    The winner of Thursday's contest advances to take on third-seeded Michigan State in the quarterfinal round at approximately 8 p.m. Friday.


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