PantherU

NIT Round One: Game 33 vs. Northwestern

vs.

Milwaukee (19-13) vs. Northwestern (18-13)

Welsh-Ryan Arena – Evanston, Illinois

TV: ESPN3, 7 p.m.

Man, that was disappointing.  Watching the Selection Show, knowing that the coldest night of shooting this season kept our guys from the Big Dance, was as awful as Charles Barkley analyzing college basketball.

But today is a new day, and the Milwaukee Panthers’ run through the NIT begins tonight in Evanston, Illinois against Northwestern.

John Shurna suffered a concussion earlier this season, but is good to go tonight.

Despite finishing eighth in the Big Ten, the Wildcats are a darn good team that plays well at home.  Juice Thompson leads a limping Northwestern team in assists, and is the school’s all-time leader in that statistic.

The reason I say the Wildcats are limping is because of the rash of injuries the team is going through.  JerShonn Cobb and Mike Capocci are both questionable and may miss the game.  If they do play, expect them to not be 100%.  Cobb is fourth in both scoring and rebounding for the Wildcats, and Capocci is shooting 50% from the field this season.

Besides Thompson, the name everyone should know is that of John Shurna.  The 6’7” small forward creates huge match-up problems for the Panthers with his ability to shoot the three (46.2%) and overall scoring (16.5 ppg).  Shurna, like the rest of the Wildcats, is susceptible on defense – he is not a physical player on the defensive end and likely will allow a player like Tony Meier the opportunity to score in the low post.

Luka Mirkovic is the post player and will likely guard Anthony Hill tonight.  Mirkovic is averaging around six rebounds per game, but he’s been largely non-existent on the glass the past few games (six rebounds in his last four games, five of which came against Minnesota in the regular season finale).

Milwaukee is facing a very difficult team, there’s no arguing that.  The Big Ten has some pretty awful teams, but Northwestern definitely isn’t one of them.  Had Shurna not spent part of the season with an injury, the Wildcats very well could have made their first NCAA Tournament.  But like the Panthers, the Wildcats are left saying “what if” and are getting ready for an NIT game.

The winner of tonight’s game will visit Boston College in the second round.  It had been questioned whether Boston College would have been able to host, since they had to visit McNeese State yesterday, but the hockey team will not need the arena and the Eagles will host.

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