After a 68-54 victory over Illinois, Northwestern will attempt the season sweep over the Illini in Evanston Sunday night. The Wildcats never trailed in their last meeting. Five Wildcats finished in double figures.
Both teams fortunes have changed since their January meeting in Champaign. Jarod Swopshire had 12 points and six rebounds in that game and has since been lost for the season with a knee injury. NU has lost five players to injuries and suspensions this season.
Northwestern enters Sundays game having lost six of their last nine. They have not won two in a row since November.
Despite having only seven scholarship players, the Wildcats pushed Ohio State to the last four minutes of regulation before falling 69-59. Ohio State used a 12-0 run late to break open a game knotted at 57. Four Wildcats scored in double figures. All but six of their points came from the wings.
Four Wildcats finished in double figures led by freshman guard Tre' Demps. Classmate Kale Abrahamson finished with 13 points and connected on 3-5 from beyond the arc.
Illinois was in the middle of six losses in seven games when they lost to Northwestern last month.
The Illini has since won three straight. Included were wins over then number one Indiana and at number 18 Minnesota. Those wins have the Illini back in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Illini are led by their dynamic backcourt of Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams. They account for 55.7 percent of Illinois' scoring.
Illinois' perimeter oriented attack is a good matchup for NU. No one averages over 4.7 RPG. Northwestern held Illinois to 3-20 on three point attempts in their last meeting and was only out rebounded 29-21.
This will be NU's second game with Swopshire and Freshman center Alex Olah is expected to be out for the second consecutive game with a concussion.
Reggie Hearn scorched Illinois in the last meeting. Hearn scored 20 points, hitting on 3-5 from beyond the arc and 9-10 from the free throw line.
With both teams featuring perimeter oriented attacks, expect a lot of three point field goals launched. Illinois ranks first in the Big Ten in three point attempts and Northwestern second. The difference is that Northwestern is fourth in the Big Ten connecting on 35.5 percent of their attempts and Illinois is eighth at 33.3 percent.
Northwestern and Illinois tipoff at 6:30pm CT on the Big Ten Network.