KANSAS CITY, MO -- The Northwestern Wildcats (3-0) take on the No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels (3-1) in the opening round of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic tonight in Kansas City. With a win, Northwestern would play Kansas State, who crushed Missouri 66-42 in the tournament's first game earlier tonight. With a loss, the Wildcats would take on the Tigers.
Chris Collins' team last played on Friday night, as it came back from a double digit deficit to beat the Ivy League's Columbia Lions 83-80 in overtime at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Bryant McIntosh led the way for the Wildcats with 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting. Tre Demps was the only other player in double figures, as he added 22 in the winning effort.
North Carolina, on the other hand, is coming off its first loss of the young season, a stunning 71-67 defeat in Cedar Falls against the Northern Iowa Panthers. With star point guard Marcus Paige still out with a hand fracture (he won't play tonight), the Tar Heels' backcourt didn't get the job as Joel Berry and Nate Britt combined to score just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting.
Forward Justin Jackson (not the Northwestern leading running back) scored a game-high 25 points but it wasn't enough for Roy Williams' team, which shot just 5-for-18 from three-point range and committed 12 turnovers. Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks added 10 points apiece.
Considering that this is Northwestern's first actual matchup with a fellow power-conference school this season, it'll be interesting to see how the Wildcats match up with North Carolina and it's athletic frontcourt. The Tar Heels are dominant on the glass and in the paint, which should cause problems for Alex Olah, whose lack of foot speed and explosiveness was exploited by Columbia.
Still, regardless of the result, this game is a big barometer for this team to determine if it can hang with -- potentially -- one of the country's better teams. If the Wildcats can keep it close, it could say something to the rest of the NCAA about their legitimacy.
The game tips off at 8:32 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN2.
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