Northwestern fans stay glued to the television this Thursday night if you are not at the always charming Welsh-Ryan Arena, as this game against the Gophers will show the Wildcats where their place in the Big Ten actually is. Everyone is saying the Cats are going to be a tourney team for the first time ever this season, and this game will be a huge indicator of the success of the team. This game isn’t a “must win” game but it definitely is a “can’t lose”.
Minnesota is coming off an upset victory against the Purdue Boilermakers on the road while the Cats are coming off a 9 point loss to the Spartans from East Lansing. Both of these teams have lost to Michigan State this year, as the team’s only common opponent. The Gophers blew a 2nd-half lead to the Spartans and the Cats dug themselves into a big hole early in their previous game and could never come back.
For Northwestern to have success they will have to be able to attack the rim hard against a stifling Minnesota defense and they must be able to stop Nate Mason who is fresh off a 31 point performance in West Lafayette. Also, another key for the Cats is that Dererk Pardon is returning to the lineup. They will be able to utilize him on defense and he is another productive body for the Cats because 3 of them fouled out last game.
Prediction: Cats manage a way to push on the spread and win 67-63.