Northwestern beat Rutgers, 83-61, Thursday night, which means the Wildcats will advance to play Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament.
Mark Turgeon and the Terps have been waiting patiently to find out their opponent since beating Michigan State on Saturday, and Northwestern always seemed the most likely team to take that spot. The Wildcats got a bye for the first round, and took care of Rutgers handily after the Scarlet Knights outmuscled Ohio State on Wednesday.
This is the last game of the day, tipping off around 9 p.m. EST on BTN.
Here’s a brief look at the Wildcats (stats not including Thursday night’s game):
2016-17 regular season record: 21-10
KenPom ranking: 37 (Maryland is 38)
How they’ve looked recently: Northwestern hasn’t won two games in a row since late January, and its NCAA Tournament bid that once seemed assured was looking shaky. Then a buzzer-beating full-court pass and layup pushed the team over Michigan and erased any doubts:
Northwestern basketball had waited its entire existence for what happened on Wednesday. For Collins, it felt like this night was a lifetime in the making: His first recruit leading the charge, his high school coach drawing up the play, his destiny as the first man to lead Northwestern to the NCAA tournament likely fulfilled.
Projected NCAA Tournament seeding: a No. 9 seed, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.
Players to know
Bryant McIntosh, junior, guard, 6’3/185, No. 30. McIntosh is the team’s all-around best player, and he wasn’t active when Maryland beat Northwestern in February, and is the team’s leading scorer (15 points per game) and assist man (5.4 per game).
Dererk Pardon, sophomore, forward/center, 6’8/235, No. 5. Pardon missed five weeks of the season after getting surgery on his right wrist, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with after a standout freshman season. He’ll give Damonte Dodd, Ivan Bender and the rest of Maryland’s bigs a handful with his rebounding prowess (he grabs eight boards per game).
Scottie Lindsey, junior, guard, 6’5/210, No. 20. Lindsey is another reliable threat for the Wildcats. He’s averaging 14 points per game, and shoots 49 percent from inside the arc.
Defense. KenPom’s adjusted efficiency metrics rank the Wildcats’ defense as the 31st-best in the country, and they hold opponents to the 17th-best effective field goal percentage in the country (45 percent).
Shooting. Northwestern’s two-point shooting percentage ranks 226th in the country, its three-point percentage ranks 219th and its effective field goal percentage ranks 232rd. That’s not going to scare opposing defenses.