Was this a huge upset? On one level, yes. Any time the most prominent college basketball program in the Big Ten falls to the program with the least amount of tradition in the conference, it’s huge!
Not to mention it ended the biggest win streak that prominent
On the other hand, Northwestern came in with a RPI of 28 while Michigan State’s number is 6, so it’s not that big of a spread.
Also, last year’s meetings were an OT defeat in East Lansing and a one possession final score in Evanston.
However, when Northwestern defeated Michigan State 81-74, this one seemed to look like a “season definer.”
Maybe it was the all black uniforms.
They looked a lot cooler and menacing than in college football.
The halftime numbers truly fore-casted this upset. At intermission, you had to be really optimistic if you were a Northwestern fan. Michigan State was shooting 65% field goal, 71% from 3. Versus NU going 46% field goal shooting and 50% from 3. Yet it was the Cats who held a 2 point lead.
So what made the difference for the Cats today, and how do they build on this going forward?
“I thought we executed better offensively, I haven’t been displeased with our defense, but tonight I thought we improved with that,” NU Coach Bill Carmody said.
Also, the Cats made a major move in the starting lineup. Actually, they did it at #13 Michigan Wednesday night, when they led the entire regulation period before losing it in overtime. Today, the Cats were able to close.
That move was swapping Davide Curletti for Luka Mirkovic in the starting lineup. John Shurna moved over to the 5, with NU playing a smaller lineup.
“I really thought today, we were hitting on all cylinders,” said Curletti who finished with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Curletti’s coach, Bill Carmody referred to him as the “Energizer Bunny” and he proved to be the spark the Cats needed.
“We lost this on the defensive end, we’re not allowed to give up 81 points,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said.
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