Northwestern's BTT Outlook: Playing for Pride And Drew Crawford

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern ended the regular season 11th in the Big Ten, landing them a matchup with Iowa in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.

One team annihilated Northwestern twice this season. They beat the Wildcats by 26 points in each game, dominating in all aspects of the game. In the opening round of the Big Ten tournament, Northwestern and Iowa will square off once more.

Iowa proved to be the ultimate mismatch for Northwestern this year. The 'Cats simply could not handle the size and strength of Aaron White, Adam Woodbury, and Gabriel Olaseni. In their two matchups this year, Iowa out-rebounded Northwestern 85 to 48, which included 23 offensive boards for the Hawkeyes.

Lack of depth has certainly hurt Northwestern and the matchup against accentuates that deficiency. NU has just one true post, Alex Olah, playing significant minutes while Iowa has at least four. For a period of time this season, Northwestern was essentially playing with only six guys. 10 Hawkeyes play double digit minutes per game.

Now, the 'Cats are also without JerShon Cobb, one of their best scorers and team leaders. Northwestern wasn't going to have good odds against anyone in the first round of the B1G tournament, but Iowa was the absolute worst draw for them.

Even if Chris Collins pulled a miracle and defeated the slumping Hawkeye squad, NU would take on Michigan State in the second round. The Spartans also beat NU twice this year, and that was when they weren't healthy.

Looking past the first round in the Big Ten tournament is the same as living in a dream world for Wildcat fans. What they can expect Thursday is an energetic Chris Collins, a hyped bench, and a team giving its all on the defensive end. It's potentially Drew Crawford's last game as a Wildcat, so NU is going to leave it all on the floor.

Northwestern is playing for pride now. This is about showing the Big Ten they aren't going to go down easy.

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