Michigan looking for positives as surprising Northwestern up next

Michigan looking for positives as surprising Northwestern up next

Field-Level Media

Michigan and Northwestern have been two of the Big Ten’s biggest surprises this year — but for opposite reasons as they prepare to face off Thursday night in Evanston, Illinois.

At the start of the season, Michigan was a ranked team and was expected to finish third in the league. However, the Wolverines enter the Big Ten tilt at Northwestern with an 11-10 overall record and a 5-5 conference record.

While Michigan was a disappointment, Northwestern was a pleasant surprise.

Picked to finish 13th in the league heading into the season, the Wildcats come in 15-6 overall and are tied for third in Big Ten play with a 6-4 record.

Michigan enters the game desperate for a Quad 1 victory as it hopes to build a resume for the NCAA Tournament in the final month of the regular season. The Wolverines have lost two straight games, the last being an embarrassing 83-61 loss at Penn State on Sunday.

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“You always try to stay as positive as possible,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said.

The only good news for Michigan against Penn State is that freshman guard Jett Howard, the team’s second-leading scorer, returned to the lineup and scored 21 points after missing last Thursday’s game against Purdue. with a sprained ankle.

The Wolverines won the first meeting against Northwestern 85-78 on January 15 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Northwestern won’t have much prep or recovery time, given that it played at Iowa on Tuesday night in a postponed Jan. 18 game due to COVID-related issues in the Northwestern schedule.

The Wildcats saw a three-game winning streak end in an 86-70 loss. The game will feature a clash of two teams who take good care of the ball. Michigan is fifth in the nation with the fewest turnovers per game at 9.8, while Northwestern is tied for 13th with 10.3 turnovers per game.

“We’ve always had a goal of trying to get under 10 (per game),” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “For the most part over the past 10 years, this has been a staple of our program.” –Field-Level Media

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