Reeling Northwestern looks to stop skid vs. Minnesota
Both Northwestern and Minnesota will share the common bond that they are two reeling teams desperate for a win when they hook up for a Big Ten contest on Thursday in Minneapolis.
For Northwestern (6-14, 3-13 Big Ten), it just wants to rediscover the feeling of what it's like to win, period.
Following a 3-0 start in Big Ten play that included two wins over teams ranked in the Top 25 at the time, the Wildcats are now on a 13-game losing streak, the latest defeat being a 68-51 home loss to Wisconsin on Sunday.
Eight of those losses in Northwestern's losing streak have been by double digits.
Despite that, Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said there was a bright spot in the game against Wisconsin -- the play of sophomore guard Boo Buie.
In 32 minutes, Buie scored 19 points with four assists and was 8-for-15 from the field, a performance that Collins said was encouraging for the team.
"When he's playing well, we usually feed off of that," Collins said. "The games we have won, we have played at a really high level, and a lot of the games where we had a chance to win -- he played well."
While not on a losing streak as extensive as Northwestern's, Minnesota is also hungry for a win to keep its plummeting NCAA Tournament aspirations alive.
The Golden Gophers (13-10, 6-10) have lost three straight and are coming off a lopsided 94-63 loss at home to Illinois on Saturday.
Even worse for Minnesota is that it is battling the injury bug at the worst time of the season. Guard Gabe Kalscheur (9.2 points per game) is out three-to-four weeks with a broken finger and center Liam Robbins (11.7 points, team-high 6.6 rebounds) is battling a foot injury.
Both missed the Illinois game, and it's questionable whether Robbins will be able to return against Northwestern.
"Those are our two best defenders," Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino said. "Gabe is our best perimeter defender and Liam obviously is a great shot blocker. You take two starters off of any team, you're not going to be as good. Nevertheless, we can certainly be better than what we were (Saturday). We certainly seemed a little bit disjointed with those two guys out, but we have got to find a way."
Minnesota is led by Marcus Carr with 19.0 points per game average. Chase Audige leads Northwestern with 12.9 points.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 24, 2021