Northwestern will host Georgia Tech tonight at 8:15 CT at Welsh-Ryan as a part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Both teams enter the matchup with one loss. Northwestern's came last Wednesday in Cancun against a solid Northern Iowa team in a game that really wasn't close, losing by an eventual scoreline of 61-42. Georgia Tech's lone defeat also came last week against Marquette when they lost 72-70 in the first round of the Orlando Classic. Georgia Tech's most recent win over Rhode Island was their 1,300th in program history.
Like Northwestern, Georgia Tech has a balanced offensive attack with four players averaging in double figures and none averaging above 12.7 points per contest. Georgia Tech will have a size advantage, as they start three players measuring 6-foot-8 or above and two players weighing 270 pounds in Demarco Cox and Charles Mitchell, who's playing for the Yellow Jackets after transferring from Maryland last year. Mitchell's averaging 10.7 points and an impressive 8.6 rebounds on the young season. Rebounding is a strength for this Georgia Tech team, as they have the tenth-best offensive rebound percentage in the country and rank 11th in preventing opponents from getting offensive rebounds.
Georgia Tech presents a matchup problem for Northwestern with their big men. As Seth Tuttle proved last week, big men who are mobile and look to score pose problems for a Northwestern front line that consists of a seven-footer who prefers to camp out in the lane (Olah) and a 6-7, 220 pound four-man in Sanjay Lumpkin. Olah will likely matchup on Cox, so it'll be vital that Sanjay Lumpkin puts in a solid defensive effort against Mitchell because he will be outweighed by a solid 50 pounds.
Northwestern has finally had some time to practice on their home floor after opening the season with 6 games in 12 days. It'll be interesting to see how the 'Cats bounce back from last week's trouncing by Northern Iowa, particularly on the offensive end. Far too often against Northern Iowa did the offense stagnate for 30 seconds with the ball swinging around the perimeter before someone finally looking to shoot out of necessity. This happens particularly often when Bryant McIntosh isn't in the game.
Keep an eye on two specific Wildcats tonight in Vic Law and Alex Olah. While he's shown flashes of what made him a top-70 recruit, Law's first couple collegiate games have been disappointing on the whole. Yes, he's been aggressive, but he's been sloppy on the offensive end and hasn't looked to get into the lane nearly often enough for a player with his elite body and athleticism. But Law knows this, and he's been vocal in practice this week about staying aggressive and looking to get to the rim with more frequency.
Olah has been another disappointment, at least so far. He's shown that he struggles to guard mobile big men and has looked very pedestrian on the offensive end, often using the same post move. Yet he still plays a crucial role on this team, as he's the only true big man Northwestern have, and he'll need to stay out of foul trouble tonight to give Northwestern any chance. Otherwise, look for Georgia Tech to pound the ball inside and make it a long night for Northwestern.
How to Watch
TV: 8:15 CT, ESPNU
Online Stream: WatchESPN
Radio: 87.7 FM The Game or 89.3 FM WNUR
Odds: Northwestern is a 2.5-point favorite.
KenPom: KenPom gives NU a 56 percent change of winning and predicts a final score of 60-59.