Tipoff between Northwestern and Michigan is nearing. The Wildcats and Wolverines hit the floor at Crisler Arena Wednesday night (6 p.m. CT, Big Ten Network).
Let's sift through all the normal filler GameThread intro content and get right down to business (but here's the preview if you want it). I'm feeling really confident about this game. Here are a few reasons Northwestern can beat Michigan tonight:
- Northwestern is on eight days' rest. The Wildcats haven't played since a Feb. 16 loss at Purdue. The extended rest will be especially helpful for ailing big men Alex Olah and Joey van Zegeren, both of whom have been battling (and will continue to battle) foot injuries.
- Speaking of Olah, he has terrorized Michigan. In his three games against the Wolverines since Chris Collins took over, Olah has averaged an offensive rating of 139.7. He scored a combined total of 47 points in two games a year ago. He'll be the tallest player on the floor when he's in, and Northwestern should look to him early and often.
- Speaking of rest, Michigan hasn't had much of it since it poured all of its energy into a Sunday game at Maryland. The Wolverines played really well, but came up just short down the stretch and fell 86-82. In fact, the Wolverines haven't had a break in their schedule in a while. They've played six games in February, and five have been against the conference's top eight teams. Four have been against the conference's top five. Only two have been wins.
- Northwestern won't be overwhelmed athletically. Michigan is a really polished offensive basketball team, but it's not a team full of four- and five-star athletes. Instead, it's one that ranks 12th out of 14 teams in defensive efficiency in conference play.
Anybody else feeling confident? Let's discuss below.