Game Night: Northwestern vs Butler

November 18th, 2009

#11/#10 Butler Bulldogs (1-0) at Northwestern Wildcats (1-0)

Tip Time: 8 p.m. EST
Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, IL
TV: Big Ten Network
Last meeting: Butler 57 Northwestern 53 (2008-09)

Ugh. That's the collective vibe reverberating in Evanston, IL, home of the Northwestern Wildcats, better known as the only BCS conference school never to make the NCAA tournament. This was supposed to be THE YEAR for the Cats—a real chance to make the Big Dance. A real chance to erase 60 years of Purple Pain.

But that optimism has crumbled like the bones in Kevin Coble's left foot. Coble, the team's leading scorer and a second-team All-Big 10 forward, suffered a foot fracture during a preseason practice and is out for the season. To make matters worse, swingman Jeff Ryan tore his ACL in Northwestern's opening-game blowout of Northern Illinois.

So a depleted roster means same ole Northwestern, right? Not exactly.

Coach Bill Carmody will look to John Shurna, who played with Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack on the USA U19 Gold Medal team, and veteran guards Jeremy Nash and Michael Thompson to fill the void left by Coble and Ryan.

Much like Davidson, Northwestern plays hard-nosed, disciplined defense and has the size to test Butler on Wednesday night. And watch out for the back doors! Northwestern's Princeton offense can give any team fits.

Starters:

Northwestern

G Michael Thompson 5'10 190 JR 12 ppg 3 reb 2 apg
G Jeremy Nash 6'4 191 SR 20 ppg 4 reb 3 apg
F Drew Crawford 6'5 185 FR 2 ppg 1 reb 0 apg
F Luke Mirkovic 6'11 243 SO 15 ppg 5 reb 1 apg
F John Shurna 6'8 208 SO 11 ppg 5 reb 2 apg

Butler

G Vanzant, Shawn 6’1 171 JR 10 ppg 3 reb 1 apg
G Mack, Shelvin 6'3 214 SO 7 ppg 1 reb 4 apg
F Hayward, Gordon 6'8 200 SO 17 ppg 8 reb 1 apg
F Veasley, Willie 6'3 204 SR 15 ppg 3 reb 1 apg
F Howard, Matt 6'8 230 JR 10 ppg 4 reb 1 apg

Key Reserves:

Northwestern

F Peljusic, Ivan 6'8 215 JR 7 ppg 7 reb 2 apg
C Rowley, Kyle 7'0 280 SO 5 ppg 5 reb 1 apg

Butler

G Nored, Ron 6'0 178 SO 8 ppg 2 reb 5 apg
F Jukes, Avery 6'8 217 SR 6 ppg 1 reb 0 apg

Keys to the Game

Butler
- Start Strong
- Establish Matt Howard Inside
- Bench Points

Northwestern
- Contain Matt Howard
- Draw Fouls
- Knock down 5+ 3's

Prediction: Butler 71 Northwestern 62

Your turn: Who wins? What's the score? What are the keys to the game?