March 15, 2011
Northwestern (18-13) vs. Milwaukee (19-13)
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117)
Evanston, Ill. 7 p.m.
Streaming Video: ESPN3.com (Mike Gleason and Mike Kelley)
Audio: WGN 720 AM and NUsports.com (Dave Eanet and Tim Doyle)
In-game Twitter updates: @NU_SportsLIVE
Northwestern Game Notes (PDF)
Tickets: $20, available at NUsports.com or by calling 888-GO-PURPLE
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern makes its school-record third consecutive postseason appearance and sixth appearance overall in the National Invitation Tournament on Wednesday as it hosts Milwaukee at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Tickets cost $20 and are available at NUsports.com, by calling 888-GO-PURPLE or at Welsh-Ryan Arena beginning at 5:30 p.m. Northwestern students are being admitted free of charge and can pick up their ticket with a valid WildCARD at a ticket booth in front of Welsh-Ryan Arena prior to the contest.
The Wildcats, seeded fourth, received an at-large bid, while the fifth-seeded Panthers picked up an automatic bid after finishing first in the Horizon League during the regular season.
NU is hosting an NIT game for the first time since 1994. The Wildcats defeated DePaul 69-68 in a first-round contest before falling to Xavier 83-79 in overtime. The Wildcats have dropped a first-round contest in the NIT each of the last two years. Northwestern fell 68-59 at Tulsa in 2009 before being defeated 76-64 at Rhode Island a year ago.
The Wildcats were eliminated from last week's Big Ten tournament in the quarterfinal round, falling 67-61 in overtime to top-ranked Ohio State. Northwestern downed Minnesota 75-65 in an opening-round contest Thursday behind a Big Ten tournament record 35 points by senior point guard Michael Thompson.
Northwestern won the only previous meeting 80-44 Dec. 14, 1998 in Evanston.
The Panthers (19-13, 13-5 Horizon League) finished tied for first in their conference with Butler and Cleveland State and hosted the Horizon League tournament. Milwaukee defeated Valparaiso in the semifinal round before falling to Butler in the championship game.
Senior forward Anthony Hill leads Milwaukee with averages of 15.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Senior guard Tone Boyle contributes 13.1 points per contest.
Rob Jeter, the 2011 Horizon League Coach of the Year, has a 101-88 record in six seasons as the head coach at Milwaukee. He was previously an assistant coach under Bo Ryan at Wisconsin.
Northwestern is making its sixth NIT appearance and its third consecutive. The Wildcats have a 2-5 all-time record in NIT play.
3/17/83 - Notre Dame (Chicago, Ill.) W, 71-57
3/21/83 - DePaul (Chicago, Ill.) L, 65-63
3/16/94 - DePaul (Evanston, Ill.) W, 69-68
3/21/94 - Xavier (Evanston, Ill.) L, 83-79 (OT)
3/16/99 - DePaul (Chicago, Ill.) L, 69-64
3/18/09 - Tulsa (Tulsa, Okla.) L, 68-59
3/17/10 - Rhode Island (Kingston, R.I.) L, 76-64
Thompson Selected to Big Ten All-Tournament Team
Michael Thompson joined Evan Eschmeyer (1999) and Jitim Young (2004) as Northwestern selections to the Big Ten all-tournament team by virtue of picking up the honor this season. Thompson set a Big Ten tournament record by scoring 35 points in an opening-round win over Minnesota March 10. The total bested the previous mark of 33 held by Purdue's Brian Cardinal. Thompson hit 11 of 22 field goal attempts, including five of 12 from 3-point range, while making all eight free throw attempts in the contest. He followed it up with 15 points in a near upset of No. 1 Ohio State. Thompson went a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe to tie the Big Ten record for the best mark in a single tournament.
Shurna, Thompson Earn All-Big Ten Distinction
Northwestern placed a pair of individuals on the All-Big Ten third team when the honors were announced March 7. Senior guard Michael Thompson was a consensus selection, while junior forward John Shurna was a third-team pick of the coaches and was named honorable mention by the media. Shurna was a consensus second-team pick as a sophomore, while Thompson earned honorable mention a year ago. It is the second time in three years that NU has placed two players on the All-Big Ten teams. In 2009, Kevin Coble was selected to the second team, while Craig Moore was tabbed to the third team.
Setting the Standard
Northwestern's senior class has posted 63 wins over the last four seasons. With a victory over Illinois Feb. 5, this year's senior class earned its 59th career win to surpass last year's class as the winningest in Northwestern history. The 38 combined wins by the Wildcats over the last two seasons are a school record for back-to-back campaigns.
The Magic Number is 70
When the Wildcats tally at least 70 points this season, their record is 16-1. NU's record falls to 2-12 when it posts 69 points or less.
Success Under Carmody
NU earned its sixth Big Ten win of the season at Indiana Feb. 19. In head coach Bill Carmody's 11 seasons in Evanston, the Wildcats have recorded at least six Big Ten victories seven times. The program totaled six or more conference wins just five times in the previous 31 years prior to Carmody's arrival.
Climbing the Charts
Senior point guard Michael Thompson currently has 1,629 career points, ranking him third in Northwestern history. The Chicago native surpassed Patrick Baldwin (1991-94) as NU's all-time assists leader Jan. 15 at Michigan State. Thompson also ranks second all-time at Northwestern with 263 3-point field goals and fifth with 156 steals.
It's a rare thing when Michael Thompson isn't on the court for Northwestern. He has started all 126 games during his career as a Wildcat and surpassed Jitim Young (2001-04) Feb. 9 for the most starts in school history. He passed Craig Moore (2006-09) for the most games played in school history vs. Penn State Feb. 24. On Jan. 12 at Iowa, Thompson became the school's all-time leader in minutes played, surpassing Jim Stack (1979-83). He eclipsed 4,500 minutes for his career March 11 vs. Ohio State. Last season, Thompson ranked fourth in the nation with an average of 37.7 minutes played per game. His average of 36.9 minutes per game this season ranks second in the Big Ten to only Penn State's Talor Battle.
Longest Active String of Consecutive Starts
Through games of 3/13/11
Source: STATS, Inc.
1. Dairese Gary, New Mexico - 130
2. Tyler Newbold, Utah State - 128
2. Kevin Anderson, Richmond - 128
4. Michael Thompson, Northwestern - 126
Northwestern has long been known for its accurate 3-point shooting. The Wildcats sport a .376 3-point percentage this season. NU is also fourth nationally with an average of 9.1 made 3-pointers per game. Individually, John Shurna is 18th in the nation with a .462 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 12th in the nation with an average of 16.5 assists per game. NU's assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.67 (510 assists, 305 turnovers) is the nation's second-best mark, trailing only Wisconsin. The 'Cats are also third nationally with an average of only 9.8 turnovers per game.
They're Called Free Throws for a Reason
Michael Thompson enters the NIT having connected on a school-record 32 straight free throw attempts. He surpassed the previous mark of 27 set by Pete Boesen in 1976 against Minnesota March 2. Thompson hit all 11 of his tries from the line Feb. 19 at Indiana, a tie for the third-best single-game effort in school history. He ranked tied for eighth in Big Ten play with a .842 free throw percentage (48-57).
A year after shattering the school season record with 317 3-point makes, the 'Cats have followed suit this season. NU leads the Big Ten and is fourth nationally with an average of 9.1 3-point makes per game. Michael Thompson ranks third among all Big Ten players with an average of 2.65 triples per contest.
Big Ten, Most 3-point field goals in conference games - All-time
Northwestern, 2009-10 - 170
Northwestern, 2010-11 - 162
Michigan, 2008-09 - 151
Purdue, 2007-08 - 151
Wisconsin, 2009-10 - 147
When Northwestern's Michael Thompson hit his 250th career 3-pointer Feb. 27 at Wisconsin, he became just the fifth Big Ten player over the last 15 seasons to compile at least 500 assists and 250 3-point field goals in their careers. He became the first Wildcat to eclipse 500 career assists Feb. 24 vs. Penn State. All four of Thompson's season assist totals rank among the top 10 marks in program history.
500+ assists, 250+ 3-point field goals
Big Ten players since 1996-97
Source: STATS, Inc.
Talor Battle, Penn State (2007-present)
Dee Brown, Illinois (2002-06)
Jeff Horner, Iowa (2002-06)
Drew Neitzel, Michigan State (2004-08)
Michael Thompson, Northwestern (2007-present)
Home Sweet Home
The Wildcats have a 12-4 home record this season with three of the losses coming to teams that were nationally ranked at the time (Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State). After setting a program best with 13 home wins in 2008-09, the Wildcats established a new mark with 15 victories at Welsh-Ryan Arena in 2009-10. Northwestern has a 37-3 home record against unranked opponents over the last three seasons.
The winner of Wednesday's contest advances to take on the winner of Tuesday's game between Boston College and McNeese State. Date and site is to be determined.
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