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No. 5 Michigan looks to stay unbeaten vs. Northwestern
Tuesday, December 04, 2018
Latest Line: Michigan -5 O/U: 127
 
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Going into No. 5 Michigan's second Big 10 game of the season at Northwestern on Tuesday, the biggest question might not be whether Northwestern can pull off the upset.

Instead, it might be whether or not the Wildcats can keep it close, because none of Michigan's other opponents have been able to do so thus far.

Michigan is not only off to an 8-0 start, but it hasn't played a close game.

The Wolverines have annihilated opponents, winning by an average of over 21 points a game, and it's not as if they have played all overmatched teams either.

Among the teams routed by Michigan were Villanova, North Carolina and Purdue, so it's no wonder why there is already Final Four talk around Ann Arbor even though it is early December.

"To play that way is special," Michigan head coach John Beilein said following Saturday's 76-57 win at home over Purdue. "I'm really proud of our kids the way they've been handling this thing. We are just going to keep it going the same way we've been doing it. Just everyday go into practice with great humility and great work habits. We are going to have a tough Northwestern game in their new arena. We just have keep going day by day."

Northwestern is off to a solid start. The Wildcats enter with a 6-2 record but are coming off a 68-66 loss at Indiana in their Big 10 opener on Saturday.

The game against Michigan will represent the first ranked opponent to visit Northwestern's refurbished Welsh-Ryan Arena, and the Wildcats hope an enthusiastic crowd will propel them to an upset of the Wolverines.

The game might be one in which points are hard to come by, given the teams are two of the better defensive squads in the Big 10.

Michigan enters allowing 51.8 points per game, while Northwestern is allowing 61.9 a contest.

"We believe in it," Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said of his team's defense on his postgame radio show following the loss to Indiana. "Our guys care about it and we have the pieces.

"We have long guys and are pretty good in our concepts with our spacing. We have the ability to shrink the floor because of our size and we have an elite big man defender in (Dererk) Pardun. It's something you have to have in this league. A lot of these games become grind-it-out battles, and you if are not playing defense, you have no chance to win."

Northwestern will have to slow down a Michigan offense that is balanced and versatile, led by freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis, who is averaging 16.3 points a game.

Senior guard Charles Matthews isn't too far behind, averaging 14.6 points a game.

Northwestern is led by senior forward Vic Law, who is averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 rebounds a game.

Pardun has established himself as one of the conference's best post players, averaging 13.8 points and 9.6 rebounds a game, while senior guard Ryan Taylor is averaging 13.4 points a game for the Wildcats.