Well I certainly wasn't expecting that.
In front of a sleepy Conte Forum crowd, Northwestern executed their half-court offense with surgical precision, cruising to an 18 point victory over Boston College. NU is now one win away from the NIT Final Four at Madison Square Garden; we'll know early Tuesday whether they'll play at Washington State or Oklahoma State.
Northwestern put on an offensive clinic from the opening tip, hitting 19 of 26 twos and 15 of 36 threes for an outstanding 67% effective field goal percentage. BC had no answers for the Princeton offense; basically the only time they got stops were when NU missed open threes or turned it over with bad passes. Even when NU did miss, they often got their own rebound, grabbing 10 of their 28 missed field goals.
- All five Northwestern starters finished in double figures, led by Juice Thompson's 22 points on 6 of 12 3-point shooting. John Shurna struggled from the outside (1 of 8 on threes), but still had 20 points, mostly on dunks or layups after backdoor cuts. Drew Crawford had 13 points and shook off an apparent ankle sprain in the second half, and Alex Marcotullio had 12 points and continues to be NU's best defensive player. He's really becoming a pain in the ass out there (and I mean that as a compliment). With his active hands on defense, his ability to draw charges, and the way he aggressively claps his hands after drawing said charge, he's well on his way to becoming a guy who's hated by every opposing fanbase, and it's been a while since NU had a guy like that.
- Every starter played well, but Luka Mirkovic was probably the best of them all, as he made all 6 of his field goals, had a game-high 7 assists, and was solid defensively and on the boards. Has to be the best road performance of his career. When Luka plays well on offense, it opens things up for everyone else and makes NU extremely difficult to guard.
- The NU bench did nothing for the second straight game. JerShon Cobb looked rusty coming off his hip flexor injury, going scoreless in 10 minutes, while Davide Curletti and Mike Capocci are back to their usual selves. Reggie Hearn's garbage time three left him with more point than any other NU reserve.
- BC started off small, with wing Joe Trapani at the five, and worked out pretty well for them early on as Luka had no chance to stay with the much quicker Trapani. However, BC then brought in big man Josh Southern off the bench, eliminating that mismatch and forcing Trapani to have to guard Shurna. That was a disaster for the Eagles, as Shurna completely abused the defensively challenged Trapani for lay-up after lay-up. Even though Southern played pretty well, Steve Donahue would have been better off sticking with his starters.
- There was a solid NU contingent at the game making a lot of noise in the upper levels; they managed to start a few "Go U! NU!" chants. As for the BC fans, there weren't many there at all, and the student sections behind the baskets were dead. The loudest the BC fans got was when whining to the officials; a guy near me completely lost his mind demanding a 10 second violation on NU, not realizing that NU had inbounded with 33 on the shot clock and had until 23 to get the ball into the front court. On the next possession, the few BC students tried to help the officials out by counting down from 10, which was the only chant from the students all game until a "Thank You Seniors" chant that died out rapidly. Not the greatest showing from the BC faithful.