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Big Ten Monday Preview And Open Thread: Northwestern Wildcats Highlight Thin Night

Northwestern looks to improve to 11-1 in tonight's only game.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

After an eventful Saturday night, the Big Ten took a step back with a thin slate of games on Sunday, featuring only Nebraska and Rutgers. The lineup is even thinner tonight as there is only one game tonight with Northwestern hosting a dreadful Sacred Heart squad.

Game of the Night: Sacred Heart at Northwestern (7 PM ET | BTN)

Well, it is the only game tonight so I guess it should be considered the "game of the night." Northwestern's non-conference schedule was considered dreadful heading into the season and games like this will do little to push the envelope, as the Sacred Heart Pioneers rock an eight game losing streak heading into Evanston. While winning their opening game over a month ago against Quinnipiac, the Pioneers haven't won since, even with a schedule relatively void of power conference opponents (outside of Connecticut).

The team is led by sophomore Cane Broome, a  volume shooting guard that hasn't exactly been efficient, even if he's averaging 18.7 points a night. I mention that because the guard is only hitting on 39.7% of his 15.1 field goals each night, while shooting a ghastly 28.1% from beyond the arc. His low success rate from outside hasn't stopped him from chucking it up, though, as he also averages over seven attempts a night.

His numbers are more or less par for a team that struggles shooting the ball, though. So far through nine games the Pioneers are 262nd in field goal percentage, 342nd in three point percentage (27.2%), 329th in free throw percentage and 216th in points per game. Those numbers don't exactly create a pretty picture for a Sacred Heart team heading to face a Northwestern program that has done a decent enough job taking care of the cupcakes on their schedule so far.

Luckily for Northwestern, they managed to force their last game against DePaul into overtime, eventually pulling out a win, to help avoid a dreadful loss. The schedule for Northwestern has been absolutely horrid, with their best game being a double digit loss to North Carolina. Outside of that you have two overtime wins against Virginia Tech and Columbia, as well as a five point win against Missouri. While they are taking care of business so far, they're still not looking that impressive and we really can't forget that Penn State started 12-1 last season with a similar schedule before winning only four games in conference play.

As for tonight, Northwestern has more than enough offensive firepower to keep Sacred Heart at bay, even if they come out with a lack of focus as their minds might wonder elsewhere with the holidays a few days away. Tre Demps and Bryant McIntosh have both proven to be capable weapons on the offensive side of the ball, while Alex Olah is silently showing that he is one of the more underrated centers in the league. Freshman forward Aaron Falzon has also been a decent addition this season, with his development likely key if Northwestern wants to get to the postseason in March.

The Wildcats haven't always dominated their opponents, but unless they take this game for granted, it's hard to fathom a situation where they'll lose tonight. Of course the Wildcats have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the entire country, so winning tonight will do absolutely nothing to move the needle. A loss, however, would be a colossal setback for Chris Collins and company, so look for Northwestern to come out focused and ready to take care of business.