It’s been eight long days since Northwestern came up short against Purdue, but the Wildcats (5-4) are finally done with finals and ready to get back into the swing of things, starting tonight with a game against Chicago State (2-10) at Allstate Arena.
On paper, this game should be a blowout. The Cougars are No. 343 out of 351 teams in Kenpom and are winless against Division 1 competition this season (their two wins came against NAIA foes East-West University and Silver Lake College). Their smallest margin of defeat in five games against top-100 competition is 26. The largest? 69, in a 111-42 loss to the Boilermakers.
Then again, Northwestern fans learned last season that there’s no such thing as a sure thing. A similarly outclassed Chicago State team went to Welsh-Ryan Arena roughly a year ago and proceeded to shoot 13 for 26 from three and nearly pull the upset in a game the Wildcats won 68-64. It was terrifying.
The leader of that insane shooting spree, Fred Sims Jr., is back this season. He hit 7 of 13 triples in last year’s game and is averaging 16.1 points per game as a junior, the only Cougar averaging in double figures. He wears jersey No. 14 and is going to shoot a lot. And I mean a lot. Here are Sims Jr.’s shooting numbers over the last four games:
As a fellow volume shooter (ask my intramural teammates), I respect the hell out of it. Keep putting ‘em up, Fred.
For Northwestern, this should be a good tune-up for important games against Valparaiso and DePaul later in the week. It will hopefully allow Chris Collins to give extended minutes to his bench. Maybe Charlie Hall or Tino Malnati can get on the scoreboard late in the game?
I wish nothing but the best to Chicago State, which has been through a lot, but this is obviously a game NU can’t lose and I really don’t want to sweat it out like last year.
This feels like a game for BTN+, but with a very light Monday slate of games across Division 1, it’s on national TV.
Game Time: 6 p.m. central
Online: Fox Sports Go
Mobile: Fox Sports Go App
Radio: WGN 720
KenPom prediction: 86-59 (99% chance to win)
Betting Line: NU -27.5