Northwestern (12-3, 1-1 Big Ten) hosts Minnesota (13-2, 1-1 Big Ten) in the Wildcats' conference home opener.
The Golden Gophers have been very impressive early on with a host of new faces — both freshmen and transfers — playing key roles. Richard Pitino's team's two losses (by eight at Florida State and versus Michigan State in overtime) are very respectable, and it already boasts wins over St. John's, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Purdue. It's certainly a tournament-quality resume to this point. Led by reigning co-Big Ten player of the week Nate Mason, the visitors have length, get to the foul line a lot and defend well.
Northwestern will be looking for improvement from Bryant McIntosh, who is shooting just 35.1 percent from the field and 24.6 percent from three. The Wildcats will also be boosted by the return of Dererk Pardon, who is available after missing the last month-plus with a hand injury.
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