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Northwestern basketball exhibition vs. Quincy: Start time, TV coverage, how to watch online, preview

Look for Collins to have his team rearing to go.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern basketball unofficially kicks off its season tonight with an exhibition game at Welsh-Ryan Arena against Quincy University. Quincy, a small, private, liberal arts Catholic school about 250 miles from Evanston, has played Xavier and Illinois tough in the past two seasons, and will come ready to play.

But with that being said, the Hawks will be way overmatched, and we therefore won't learn much about the individual development of any of Northwestern's players. The final result also doesn't mean anything.

But there are a few things to watch for:

Who will be the starting five be?

On Tuesday, Northwestern coach Chris Collins had not yet decided on a starting five, saying only that guards Tre Demps and Bryant McIntosh, and center Alex Olah were assured of spots.

"I haven't settled in on it," he said. "McIntosh, Demps and Olah are definites. After that, we're still figuring it out a little bit. We're still trying to figure out who we're going to go with and what the rotations are going to be."

The candidates for the final two spots appear to be Vic Law, Scottie Lindsey, Aaron Falzon and Sanjay Lumpkin. The most likely candidates are Law and Falzon, though Law has been dealing with a shoulder injury that might limit his minutes.

If Collins decides to hold Law out, it actually could be Sanjay Lumpkin at the three. Collins believes Lumpkin is the team's best perimeter defender, so has moved him from the undersized four position that he occupied for much of last year to a wing position.

Defensive schemes

Collins wants to play man-to-man. His vision for his Northwestern teams are ones that play almost exclusively man, with the occasional zone wrinkle thrown in.

But last year, Collins was forced to turn to a 2-3 zone mainly to accommodate Olah, who can be a rim protector, but wasn't when he was dragged away from the basket by smaller fives.

Because Quincy has no players taller than 6-foot-8, it'll be interesting to see how Northwestern plays the Hawks. The assumption is that NU will play man, and use this as an opportunity to practice against a team whose makeup is similar to that of some of the teams the Wildcats will see in November and December. Even against a Division II team, let's watch Alex Olah, and see if he plays though stretch-fives any differently than he did a year ago.

Other lineups

It'll be interesting to see the balance of each five Collins puts on the floor. When Gavin Skelly is at the four, who does Collins need to have at the two and the three to compensate for Skelly's lack of perimeter ability? When Falzon is at the four, does he need more defense from the two and the three? Will either Falzon or Nate Taphorn see time at the three, or even, will those two ever be on the floor together? Which lineups will Scottie Lindsey see the most time with?

The answers to those questions will evolve throughout the season, but we'll get a first look at things Thursday night.

Here's how to watch the exhibition:

Time: 7 p.m. CT
TV: BTN Plus
Online: BTN2Go
Radio: WNUR, 89.3 FM

Follow us on Twitter for live, in-game updates from Welsh-Ryan.