In its final game of 2017, Northwestern basketball (9-5) welcomes Brown (6-5) to Allstate Arena for a Saturday matinee matchup. This is the Wildcats’ final tuneup before conference play resumes on Tuesday against Nebraska.
Mike Martin’s Brown team hasn’t enjoyed much success recently, finishing last or tied for last in the Ivy league in each of the past three seasons. This year’s unit is younger, with four underclassmen starting and only one senior on the team, and ranks No. 235 in KenPom. Brown’s only top-100 KenPom opponents thus far are in-state rivals Rhode Island and Providence. Brown was blown out by Rhode Island, but held a 15-point lead over Providence before losing 77-72 in overtime. Beyond the impressive performance against Providence, there haven’t been many highlights for Brown this season, though the Bears are coming off a 21-point victory over Marist.
If there is one significant strength for this Brown team, it’s their ability to get to the line. The Bears have the 24th-best free throw rate in the country, and they convert their shots from the charity stripe at a 76.9 percent clip, good for ninth-best nationally. Leading the charge for Brown is sophomore guard Brandon Anderson, who gets to the line nearly ten times a game. Anderson leads the Bears in scoring at 19 points per game. Guards Desmond Cambridge and Zach Hunsaker are also averaging double figures each night and are competent shooters from deep. The big man to note is sophomore Joshua Howard, the son of Michigan legend and 1995 NBA All-Star Juwan Howard. Standing 6-foot-6, Howard averages about seven points a game but plays as more of a stretch four.
Vic Law’s status for the game hasn’t been announced yet, but the Wildcats shouldn’t really need him against Brown. The Bears have a few perimeter scorers who can fill it up, but Northwestern’s size inside is a huge advantage. This is a Brown team that isn’t particularly strong on either side of the ball, so Northwestern should be able to head into 2018 and the rest of conference play with ten wins.
Game Time: 11 a.m. CT
Radio: WGN 720
Streaming: Fox Sports Go
KenPom Prediction: 80-64 Northwestern (93 percent chance of winning)
Betting Line: Northwestern -17