After a strong 2-0 start to conference play, the Wildcats faced their toughest opponent to date on Tuesday night as they hosted the no. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes. Despite hanging with them for the whole game, they fell 94-87, and now the schedule gets even tougher.
The Wildcats will face their highest ranked opponent of the season on Saturday afternoon as they visit the no. 3 Maryland Terrapins. The Terps are 14-1 on the season, with their only loss against the no. 1 undefeated UConn Huskies.
As a result, finding a weakness in this Terps team is a nearly impossible task. They shoot 50.8 percent from the floor. That’s not a typo. They literally make most of their shots, and only no. 2 Baylor has a better percentage. They also just completely pummel teams, as evidenced by their +31.9 scoring margin, also 2nd best in the country.
A big reason for that is their center Brionna Jones, who leads the team with 17.9 points per game on a ridiculously efficient 66.7 percent field goal percentage. The 6’3″ senior is an incredibly physical force inside, and presents a matchup nightmare for Northwestern (and every other Big Ten team) in the paint.
But what makes Maryland so dangerous is not just their dominance in the paint, but also their strong perimeter play. That’s largely due to senior Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, who’s averaging 16.6 points on 55.3 percent shooting, 40.7 percent from deep. They’ve also added freshman Destiny Slocum this season, and she’s been lights out as well. She’s started every game, and hitting threes at a 40.6 percent clip.
For Northwestern, the’ve had a relatively strong start, going 13-3 (2-1 Big Ten). However they would still need almost everything to go right to have a shot at pulling of the upset in College Park. They have Nia Coffey (20.7 points per game), and she presents a bit of a mismatch as Maryland doesn’t a clear answer for her one-on-one. Regardless, even if Coffey goes off for 25-30 points, they still would need a lot more scoring to match Maryland’s offense (90.1 points per game).
An upset win would undoubtedly be the game of the season, and perhaps one of the best games in Northwestern history. We’ll have the call live from the Xfinity Center on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT. Tune in to 89.3 in the Evanston/Chicago Area or online at wnursports.com.