NU plays their final game before Big Ten season starts tonight at 7 PM central, hosting the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils out of the Northeast Conference. CCSU comes into the game at 3-5 overall and 1-1 in the NEC, and so far have played no one from a BCS conference, in fact NU is the only team from a BCS conference they'll play all season. They've had 9 days off for exams; their last game was on the 12th, a 70-68 overtime win over SUNY-Albany. You can watch it on bigtennetwork.com for $2.99.
There are a few things that stand out when breaking the Blue Devils down, the first being how terrible the Northeast Conference is. Thus far in non-conference play, the league has posted an embarrassing 25-78 overall record. Sacred Heart is currently the only team in their 12 team conference with a winning record, as they are 6-4. This is making me wonder if there has ever been a conference where no team finished the season with a winning record. Obviously with most of the games coming against each other it will be very difficult, but its not out of the question right now.
Also jumping off the page is the lack of offense for CCSU. They're averaging a mere 57 points a game, and the only time they've reached 70 was the aforementioned overtime game. According to this excellent preview, this is a team that likes to run, but that hasn't happened at all so far.
The third thing that I found interesting was their lack of size, as their tallest player is just 6'6". Hopefully the 'Cats can exploit that lack of size by taking the ball aggressively to the basket, much like they did against Stanford.
Once again Las Vegas has let me down, as for the third time this season there is no point spread for a Northwestern basketball game, yet there are spreads for a terrible game like North Florida vs New Orleans. I really don't get it, and I'm past trying to figure out what's going on here. So I won't be able to put my 4-0 record against the spread on the line. Last game I had to fade a missed 3 at the buzzer by Jeremy Green for NU -5.5 to hold up, so it seems luck is on my side.
While luck may not be on Northwestern's side tonight, they do have talent, size, and athleticism on their side, and thus shouldn't have trouble winning this game. My pick: Northwestern 72, CCSU 49.
Comment here if you're watching, and if and when the 'Cats break it open in the second half, switch over to podcast land to hear Rodger talk NU-Auburn (details below). With Rodger occupied, we'll need someone else to fill in to reach our multiple commenter quota (scientifically proven to lead to Northwestern wins). So Go 'Cats!