Northwestern (13-3, 1-2 Big Ten) will be looking to bounce back from two home defeats heading into Saturday afternoon’s game at Williams Arena against Minnesota (6-9, 0-3 Big Ten).
Both teams enter the game on Big Ten losing streaks. Minnesota has lost four consecutive games and its first three Big Ten contests. Northwestern has lost its last two games at home and will be once again without center Alex Olah. After scoring a boatload of points against subpar nonconference opposition, Northwestern has struggled offensively in its losses against Maryland and Ohio State. Tre Demps' struggles have been most distressing, as he has shot 21.3 percent in his previous two games.
Minnesota’s main struggles have come on the defensive side of the ball. Minnesota is 234th on KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency, and the team gave up 86 points on the road against a below-average Penn State offense. Minnesota played Michigan State close in its last home game, but the Spartans were without Denzel Valentine and the Golden Gophers still lost by eight points. Minnesota hasn't exactly lit the world on fire on offense either. The Golden Gophers will be relying on two freshmen, small forward Jordan Murphy and point guard Kevin Dorsey, to provide them with offense.
Northwestern lost 72-66 at Minnesota last season. Northwestern's last win on the road against Minnesota was an ugly 55-54 win in 2014 during Minnesota coach Richard Pitino’s first season. As Josh Burton covered yesterday, this is almost a must-win game for Northwestern, who are looking to avoid a long losing streak in Big Ten play for the second year in a row and potentially build its postseason resume.