|Northwestern bids to continue modest rise vs. Nebraska|
The Big Ten's bottom feeders have a chance to head into the conference tournament with some momentum when Nebraska visits Northwestern on Sunday afternoon in Evanston, Ill.
Northwestern (8-14 overall, 5-13 Big Ten) is playing its best basketball since December, having won its last two games after a 13-game skid. The team cooled off red-hot Maryland at home on Wednesday, with the Wildcats holding the Terrapins without a basket for the final four minutes in a 60-55 victory.
"The last four minutes, I couldn't have been prouder," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "We just had such a great positive, strong winning talking at huddle, that we're going to get stops we're going to win."
The Wildcats have posted their two best defensive performances of Big Ten play over the last two games, holding opponents to 39.3 percent in that span.
Nebraska (7-18, 3-15) shot only 33.8 percent in its last game, a 102-64 thumping at No. 5 Iowa on Thursday. The Cornhuskers had won their previous two games, shooting over 50 percent in each while holding their foes below 40 percent each time.
"It's not very often I've gone in the locker room and been disappointed by their lack of effort and fight, but (Thursday) was one of those nights," Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said. "Our lack of urgency on the defensive end was a thing that was so disappointing to me. We looked tired, we played tired, we were a step slow. Iowa's got a lot to do with that."
In fairness to the Cornhuskers, it was their 13th game in 27 days -- the result of having to make up a load of Big Ten contests due to playing only twice in January because of COVID-related pauses.
While Nebraska is locked into the No. 14 seed for the Big Ten tournament, Northwestern can move up to as high as 11th. That would result in a rematch with the Cornhuskers in the first round.
Collins is hoping his team can continue to build off its recent play, that getting a taste for winning will become addictive.
"There's such a small margin winning and losing in this league, but the emotions you feel from winning versus losing is probably the widest margin on Earth," Collins said. "When you keep showing up and you're not getting the results, you're not getting the rewards, you can get beat down."
--Field Level Media