Traveling to Madison, Northwestern (7-4 in the Big Ten coming in) knew it would need an extra large Band-aid to stop the bleeding as they took on #7 Wisconsin. At 7-4 in the B1G, coming off of a rough home loss to Illinois, NU had to find a way to get the job done without Scottie Lindsey once again. Luckily, still up half a game over Purdue, a victory would secure their spot amongst the top four in the B1G and flip the script for the Wildcats.
- With Scottie Lindsey out, Chris Collins changed things up with his starting lineup. Instead of filling in the void with Isaiah Brown, Collins went very big with McIntosh, Law, Lumpkin, Taphorn and Pardon.
- The B1G leaders would go with their normal five: Koenig, Showalter, Brown, Happ and Hayes
In front of a packed Kohl center, Wisconsin got out to a quick start, controlling the game early. However, Northwestern maintained composure to stay within striking distance. They persistently looked for quality looks.
As has been the case, the Wildcats sat back and prepared to attack. After going down 12-19, Northwestern scored 16 points in a row to lead 28-19. They would hold that nine-point lead into the half, up 31-22.
Understanding the implications of this game, Twitter was buzzing about the importance of the final 20 minutes for the ‘Cats.
Something brewing in Madison?
Northwestern with the 31-22 lead over No. 7 Wisconsin at the half. pic.twitter.com/8Jx1mmaVkr
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) February 13, 2017
Quickly, Wisconsin made a comeback to start the 2nd half. They scored 10 points in a row to pull ahead 32-31 just three and a half minutes later.
Chris Collins’ team, once again, showed why they are one of the toughest in the nation, both mentally and physically. Despite multiple rallies and the crowd’s pressure, Northwestern went up 35-32 and held their lead for the rest of the night.
Here’s why Wisconsin struggled
- Not only did the Badgers shoot 38% from the field, but they only had 19 made shots total. 19 free-throws would not be enough to supplement that
- Wisconsin had 12 turnovers (to NU’s 6) and struggled mightily to prevent points off of turnovers
- Ethan Happ was not a huge factor. NU continued to double team their opponent’s post-scorers, but recovered well to prevent outside shots.
- No single player shot 50% or above from the field
- Not the worst day for Ethan Happ, but not a big impact with 9 points and 7 rebounds
- 38% from the field, 7-19 from downtown, 14-19 from the free throw line
- Four players scored in double digits, but none scored over 13 for UW
- As if there was any doubt who this team’s leader was, Bryant McIntosh erased it scoring 25 points with 7 assists and 7 rebounds for a fantastic night
- NU limited themselves to just 6 turnovers
- NU shot 44.8% from the field, but was over 41% from downtown
- Once again, Vic Law’s shot selection and execution struggled. Law went just 3-12 from the field, but was a critical 3-6 from downtown, making some big shots
Final notes: How big was this win for Northwestern? BTN broadcaster and NU alum Dave Revsine said it best:
If anyone wants to know how much of an impact Chris Collins has had on his team, look no further. After two tough conference losses, Collins got his team ready for, a seemingly, hopeless battle with Scottie Lindsey still benched. The ‘Cats clearly improved on their defensive execution, while finding quality scoring opportunities. Bryant McIntosh showed a great balance of patience and assertiveness to stop his team from falling behind.
This NU team continued to show how mentally tough they are, refusing to get outplayed down the stretch. At 8-4 in the conference after this impressive road win, NU just needs a whole puncher to get their ticket punched to the dance. Sunday night truly may have win the biggest win in NU men’s basketball history.