Northwestern will play their first NCAA Tournament game in program history this afternoon when they face Vanderbilt. The defense and offense in the game will be important and Northwestern will have to put together a solid game on both ends of the floor in order to win.
-No. 8 Northwestern vs No. 9 Vanderbilt:
- Time/Channel: 4:30pmET, TBS
- Line: Vanderbilt (-2)
Northwestern will face a tough test against Vanderbilt. Not only are the Comodores a three-point shooting team, but they are also a paint-driving team, a good foul shooting team, and they have size on their roster.
What can Northwestern do?
-Can They Double-Team Effectively?
Luke Kornet is Vanderbilt’s 7’1’’ player, a forward, who can play on the arc or in the paint. If Northwestern chooses to double-team him, the ‘Cats will need to be effective like they were against Wisconsin with Ethan Happ.
Dererk Pardon is 6’ 8’’ and Barret Benson is 6’ 10’’, so there will be a bit of a size difference, but with Pardon’s athleticism and the effectiveness of their double-teams in previous games, they have a chance.
-Can They Defend Well?
To go along with double-teaming, Northwestern’s defense is second-best in the Big Ten this season. Defending the three-point line is going to be crucial to their success because every player on the roster can shoot well from there. Northwestern will need to be locked in defensively to their game plan and defend the three-point line the best they have this season in order to have a shot at containing Vanderbilt’s shooters.
-Can the Big Three Shoot Well?
Northwestern’s big three: Scottie Lindsey, Bryant McIntosh, and Vic Law are imperative to Northwestern’s success. When all three are shooting well, the defense spreads the floor and every player has to be guarded. When they are shooting well, it opens up the offense for Dererk Pardon other players to get easy layups.
Recently, this was seen against Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament, when Law and Lindsey scored 17 points, and McIntosh had 16. Now that Lindsey seems to be fully recovered from mononucleosis, the big three have to shoot well.
McIntosh currently averages 14.4 points per game, Lindsey currently averages 14.2, and Law currently averages 12.4 points per game. They each most-likely need to score in double figures and be around their average per game, if not higher, in order to win.
-Can They Share the Ball?
Northwestern plays best when they share the ball well. Against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament, they only tallied 2 assists. Against Maryland they tallied 15. They average 15.3 assists per game and Chris Collins said this season they play their best basketball when they are sharing the ball. Northwestern will need to share the ball well today in order to win.
Northwestern will have a tough test against a Vanderbilt team who has played their best basketball in the month of February. The ‘Cats will need stellar defense and their big three to score efficiently in order for Northwestern to win. The Wildcats have a tough test ahead of them, but it is one they can handle.