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Northwestern to Play Iowa in Big Ten Tournament Opener

Chris Collins and Drew Crawford lead Northwestern into Indianapolis in their B1G Tournament opener
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Northwestern has had a every up and down season. Their strongest stretch came in late January into February by winning five of seven. Three of those wins came on the road, including at second seeded Wisconsin.

Seven of Northwestern's 12 Big Ten losses were by 23 points or more. Two of those were against their opponent in their Big Ten Tournament opener, Iowa. The Hawkeyes dominated NU with a pair of 26 points wins.

Both teams enter the B1G postseason reeling a bit. Northwestern ended a seven game losing streak in their Big Ten Finale at Purdue. Iowa has lost five of their last six.

Northwestern finished the Big Ten season last in most of the major offensive and rebounding categories. It is a matchup of the Big Ten's Best scoring offense against its worst. The Hawkeyes averaged 84.5 PPG in their two wins over Northwestern this year. They reached 40 points in three of the four halves.

For Northwestern to have a chance to keep it competitive, they are going to have to keep the score down. The only competitive half was when Northwestern trailed the Hawkeyes 30-25 at halftime in Evanston in teams second meeting in January.

Jershon Cobb who scored 18 and had seven rebounds in NU's in January was declared out for the season with five games remaining.

The Hawkeyes crushed Northwestern on the boards in both games and connected on over 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent on threes and 75 percent from the line in both games. Defense has been NU's strength this season and to pull the upset, they will have give a better defensive effort for the entire game against the Hawkeyes.

Thursday could wrap up one of the best career's in Northwestern history. Unless the Wildcats upset Iowa, Drew Crawford will conclude his career as one of the greatest players in school history. He played the most games and had and most starts in school history. He ranks in the top five in school history in eight categories.

Sophomore Alex Olah could be a key. Olah is playing the best ball of his career over the last four games. Olah has averaged 16.3 PPG and 7.5 RPG over his last four. He will have his hands full as NU's only true post player. Iowa's frontline of Melshan Besabe, Adam Woodbury and Aaron White is big and imposing.

Northwestern and Iowa will play the last game of the day, tipping off at 8pm on ESPN2.