Northwestern (10-2) hosts Houston Baptist (4-5) on Thursday night with an opportunity to close out its non-conference schedule 11-2. After taking care of business against IUPUI on Tuesday night, the Wildcats have won seven consecutive games, the second-longest win streak in Coach Chris Collins’ tenure.
Houston Baptist comes into this game 4-5, and only one of its wins is over a D-1 opponent (Saint Peter’s). The Huskies have suffered blowout losses to Texas Tech, New Mexico, Marquette, and Indiana. Houston Baptist is ranked 179th in RPI and 270th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.
The Huskies’ offense is paced by its seniors. Forward Colton Lasher can do it all: He comes in averaging 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. Guard Reveal Chukwujekwu averages 11 points per game and an impressive 6.6 rebounds per contest.
Defensively, 6-foot-11 Josh Ibarra will be a good test for Northwestern’s big men. Gavin Skelly, Sanjay Lumpkin, and Barret Benson took advantage of an undersized IUPUI frontcourt, but things likely won’t come as easy on Thursday night. Ibarra is averaging over 10 points a game, but his most impressive statistic is his defensive rebounding percentage of 26.4, putting him in the top 50 in the country.
As a team, Houston Baptist struggles mightily on defense. Opponents have shot a staggering 61.7 percent from the field against them, including 40 percent from three. Northwestern should be able to get things going offensively in a final tuneup before Big Ten play.
Game time: 7 p.m. CT
TV channel: N/A
Online streaming: BTN2go Plus
Mobile: BTN2go Plus
Radio: WGN 720 AM
Betting line: NU -something big