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February 21, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-02-21

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8- Tuesday, February 21, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Michigan carries momentum into Evanston*

By LUKE PASCH
Daily SportsEditor
Jared Sullinger, Robbie Hum-
mel and Draymond Green are all
names you'd expect to see among
the leadingscorers in Big Ten bas-
ketball this season. Maybe Jordan
Taylor and Tim
too. Hardaway Jr., Michigan at
What about N'Westem
the lanky senior Matchup:
forward from Michigan 20-7;
Northwestern, NU 16-10
John Shurna?
Fetrn n When: Tues-
Feacuring an day S p m.
awkward shoot-d
ing release that Where: Welsh-
one Wildcat Ryan Arena
blogger com- TV/Radio:
pared to In- BTN
N-Out French
fries - ugly at first sight, with a
tasty result - the 6-foot-9 Shurna
is leading the conference in scor-
ing with 20.2 points per game. On
Saturday, he registered 18 points
on 7-of-15 shooting against Min-
nesota to break Northwestern's
all-time scoring record.
Shurna may be the most unher-
alded name in college basketball
considering his achievements, but
Tuesday night has implications
that extend much furtherthan his
personal accolades. No. 11 Michi-
gan (10-4 Big Ten, 20-7 overall)
will ride a three-game winning
streak into Evanston and tip off
against a relatively underrated
Nforthwestern (6-8, 16-10) squad.

basket.
So far this season, Michigan
and Northwestern lead the con-
ference in 3-point attempts with
616 and 605, respectively, and the
Wildcats knock them down at a
marginally better rate.
"Bill obviously is one of the best
coaches in the country," Beilein
said. "Shurna and particularly
Crawford (are good), but now
their point guard (David Sobo-
lewski), oh my goodness. He's hav-
ing an incredible freshman year."
Sobolewski, along with Wol-
verine freshman stud Trey Burke,
should provide an intriguing
matchup at the point guard posi-
tion. On Saturday, Burke proved
that he could find success on any
stage, knocking down a pair of
clutch baskets to topple Ohio State *
in front of a sellout crowd and
ESPN cameras. Though Sobo-
lewski hasn't had the same type
of exposure and doesn't score the
ball as well as Burke, his efficient
play has been impressive for a
freshman in the Big Ten. His 3.1
assist-to-turnover ratio is tops
in the league, and he has just 31
turnovers despite playing over 35
minutes a game this season. As
the two freshmen prepare to lead
their teams down the stretch,
they'll look to secure postseason
glory for their seniors, who have
all been in this situation before.
"It's tough," Douglass said. "It's
going to be something that we
have to really stay focused for. We
can't let up these last few games."

Senior guard and team captain Stu Douglass expects Northwestern to be ready for a battle at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston on Tuesday evening.

Just like Shurna, the Wildcats
are often overlooked by most of
the conference. But they've actu-
ally maintained an 11-3 home
record this season, which includes
a marquee victory over then-No. 6
Michigan State in mid-January.
"It seems like they don't miss
at home, especially Shurna," said
senior guard and co-captain Stu
Douglass. "(Junior guard Drew)
Crawford has been huge for them
this year. ... (We have to hold)
those two toa minimum."
The 6-foot-5 Crawford is right

behind Shurna, averaging 16.6
points per game - good for fourth
place in the conference. And the
pair combined for 41 points inAnn
Arbor on Jan. 11, when the Wild-
cats pushed the Wolverines to
overtime before falling, 66-64.
This time around, the race for
the Big Ten title looms. The Wol-
verines - who have allibut assured
themselves an NCAA Tournament
bid - are aiming for the regular-
season championship, currently
tied for second place with No.
8 Ohio State after trumping the

Buckeyes at home on Saturday
night. Northwestern, whose post-
season chances are less certain,
knows it can't afford to lose down
the stretch in pursuit of the pro-
gram's first-ever NCAA bid.
"We realize that they want this
game as bad as ever," Douglass
said. "I think I just saw Lunardi
had them as 'lastfour in.' They win
this game, it puts them even closer.
I don't know if it'd be a shoe-in,
but it's as pretty close asit gets for
them."
Added Michigan coach John

Beilein: "I just think they're areal-
ly good team. Their field-goal per-
centage is up from last year, their
3-point percentage is up from last
year at this time, their defensive
field-goal percentage (is) better."
Northwestern coach Bill Car-
mody's system, at least on the
offensive end, is strikingly simi-
lar to Beilein's. With a roster
that doesn't feature much length
or athleticism, his team relies
primarily on creating space for
shooters on the perimeter, with
occasional back-door cuts to the

THE RACE TO THE
BIG TEN TITLE
Three rivals - Michigan, Michigan
State and Ohio State - have beaten
each other up this season and face a
stiff final four contests to determine
the conference champion.

MICHIGAN STATE
11-3 BIG TEN, 22-5 OVERALL
LAST BIG TEN TITLE: 2009
- FEB. 22 AT MINNESOTA
- FEB. 25 VS. NEBRASKA
FEB. 28 AT INDIANA
- MAR. 4 VS. OHIO STATE

MICHIGAN
10-4 BIG TEN, 20-7 OVERALL
LAST BIG TEN TITLE: 1986
- FEB. 21 AT NORTHWESTERN
" FEB. 25 VS. PURDUE
- MAR.1 AT ILLINOIS
- MAR. 4 AT PENN STATE

OHIO STATE
10-4 BIG TEN, 22-5 OVERALL
LAST BIG TEN TITLE: 2011
- FEB. 21 VS. ILLINOIS
- FEB. 26 VS. WISCONSIN
- FEB. 29 AT NORTHWESTERN
- MAR. 4 AT MICHIGAN STATE

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