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Wisconsin basketball: Northwestern Wildcats 2019-20 preview

Northwestern’s basketball team could beat Wisconsin in lacrosse, but how will it fare on the hardwood?

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


Nickname: Wildcats

Conference: Big Ten

Location: Evanston, Illinois


Head coach: Chris Collins, sixth season at Northwestern (101-96 record at Northwestern)

2018-19 record: 13-19 (4-16 Big Ten)

Last time in NCAA Tournament: 2017, lost in second round

Top three returning scorers:

  • A.J. Turner, senior, forward, 8.7 ppg
  • Anthony Gaines, junior, guard, 6.9 ppg
  • Miller Kopp, sophomore, forward, 4.9 ppg
NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Northwestern
Wisconsin’s Brad Davison scores a reverse layup on Northwetern’s A.J. Turner (21).
Nuccio DiNuzzo-USA TODAY Sports

Key losses:

  • Vic Law, graduated, forward, 15.0 ppg, top scorer in 2018-19
  • Dererk Pardon, graduated, center, 14.0 ppg, second leading scorer in 2018-19
NBA: Orlando Magic-Media Day
The Orlando Magic signed Vic Law, but he is not on the current active roster.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Exciting newcomers:

Four-star 2019 forward Robbie Beran committed to Northwestern back in the summer of 2018, and Beran received surprisingly light recruitment considering his .9451 247Sports Composite ranking. Receiving offers form Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, Beran is slender 6-foot-9-inch forward from Richmond, Va. who only weighs in at 210 pounds. Beran’s highlight reel demonstrates his ability to score via the jump shot and the dribble drive. He also uses his length to be a legitimate shot-blocking threat. He reminds me of a young Sam Dekker.

Northwestern also has an intriguing transfer in Pat Spencer. Spencer is a graduate transfer from Loyola Maryland, but he played Lacrosse, not basketball, with Loyola. With Loyola, he was a four-time All-American and won the Tewaaraton Award, which is given to the top lacrosse player in the country. He was a first-overall draft pic in the 2019 Premier Lacrosse League Draft. The 6-foot-3-inch Spencer is slated to play guard for the Wildcats.

NCAA LACROSSE: MAY 19 NCAA Lacrosse Championships Quarterfinals - Loyola v Penn State
Pat Spencer (right)
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Date of game: Wednesday, March 4, 8 p.m. (BTN)
Location: Kohl Center, Madison, Wisconsin

Preview: Northwestern is a bit of an unknown this season. The Wildcats have lost their top three scorers from a season ago, but they do bring in four talented players: Beran, Spencer, Jared Jones, and Boo Buie.

From B1G media day, B5Q contributor Matt Belz wrote:

Chris Collins of Northwestern mentioned that he feels good about the young talent, but he noted that, on paper, the roster has a lot of unknowns. They have three returning veterans that NU will lean on, but there is also some youthful excitement. “We just need to grow,” Collins said.

Prediction: Wisconsin is probably better and should win this one at home. It is late in the season, so Northwestern’s youth could either be worn out or firing on all cylinders.