My first gamethread looks like it will be a good one. ATVS was lucky enough to have Loretta8 from SBN blog Sippin' On Purple answer some questions about LSU's matchup with the Northwestern Wildcats today. I also answered some questions in return about the LSU Tigers. Coverage of the game starts at 2:00 CT on ESPNU, and a link to ESPN Networks will be provided at the bottom of the interview for those who might want to watch the game at work or in class.
Here's the interview with Loretta8:
ATVS: The first thing that college basketball fans always talk about when they talk about the Big 10 is the low scoring games. Northwestern averaged a decent amount last year with 72 point per game. Was the first game's low score mostly due to rust or is there an emphasis being placed on defense and mistake free play?
SoP: I think Northwestern's low score was due in part to rust and in part to cold three point shooting. Point guard Michael Thompson, who started every game in his four year career, graduated after last season and it will take some time for freshmen point guards Tre Demps and David Sobolewski to learn the offense. Still, offense is the strength of Northwestern's team. Bill Carmody runs a Princeton offense, and while it may not lead to many transition baskets, it can be highly efficient in the half court, especially when Northwestern gets hot from three.
As for defense, holding Texas-Pan American to 36 points was largely due to the fact that Texas-Pan American couldn't make an open jump shot if their life depended on it; I wouldn't read much into that. Being unable to get stops on defense has kept Northwestern out of the NCAA tournament three years running, and will definitely need to improve this season.
ATVS: When I think of Northwestern, I immediately think of John Shurna. What's the limit for him this year? Is 20 a game attainable? Is he a future All-American?
SoP: Shurna has the potential to lead the Big Ten in scoring, mostly because his skill set is perfectly tailored for the Princeton offense. He's not a great one on one scorer, but he's among the nation's best at moving without the ball and using screens to get open. And when he does get a good look, don't be fooled by his ugly-looking line drive shooting motion: he's a deadly three point shooter out to the NBA line. If he can improve athletically and on defense, he'll probably be the first Northwestern player drafted since 2000.
ATVS: Looking ahead, I see Ohio State is the guest of honor for Northwestern's senior day. It looks like the perfect opportunity to end the season with an exclamation point. The question always comes up. Is this the year they make the big dance and could that be the win that gets them there?
SoP: Well, Northwestern did nearly beat Ohio State twice last year, losing by one at home and in overtime during the Big Ten tournament, but I'm not too optimistic as Ohio State is a scary good team. As for making the NCAAs, I'm cautiously optimistic: the non-conference schedule is stronger than in years past and Northwestern does return four starters from last year. I think the game against LSU will be very important to their chances: a loss will not only probably look bad on Selection Sunday but it will send them into the loser's bracket and deny them a chance to improve their RPI against the better teams in the Charleston Classic field.
ATVS: What is your prediction for the LSU vs. Northwestern game? What kind of pace might Northwestern try to use to win this game?
SoP: Northwestern will definitely try to play a slow-paced half court game, they very rarely try to run. I think LSU will give them a good game, but NU pulls it out in the end, I'll say 65-60.
Click Here to watch the game on ESPN3
Simply choose the LSU game and let the player load.