Northwestern's offense gets going on the road

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Northwestern had its second best offensive showing of the season on Saturday against Boston College. The Wildcats' offensive efficiency of 137.1 points per 100 possessions was only topped by their effort against SIU-Edwardsville. It better than the opener against Northern Illinois, it was better than the destruction of Indiana at Welsh-Ryan Arena or the torching of Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

This though wasn't a team at the bottom of NCAA Division I. No, this was a Boston College team that thought it was deserving of an NCAA Tournament berth. Instead they're going home after a home loss in the second round of the NIT.
This is the deepest that Northwestern has ever advanced in the post season. Let's take a deeper look at how the offense got them there.

Northwestern's 4 Factors on Offense and their ranks this season:

  • Effective Field Goal Percentage: 66.9% (T2, only one better was Georgia Tech)
  • Free Throw Rate: 4.8% (lowest of the season)
  • Offensive Rebound Percentage: 32.1% (8th)
  • Turnover Percentage: 12.9% (10th)
Basically, this was all about getting shots and knocking them down. Boston College seemed adept at just giving Northwestern wide open looks and the Wildcats took advantage of them. In fact, offensively this game played out for the Wildcats about how you would've expected it to according to Ken Pomeroy. For Boston College came in ranked 229th in the country in defensive eFG% and 8th in defensive free throw rate. The Princeton Offense just accentuates those flaws and Northwestern took advantage.
All five starters scored in double-figures. Alex Marcotullio was the only starter that didn't shoot over 50% from the floor in the game and his effective field goal percentage was 55% because of all the threes he takes. John Shurna had 20 points and Juice Thompson 22, but it was the play of Luka Mirkovic, who went 6-6 from the floor and scored 13 points, that really impressed me. This wasn't "road Luka" in the slightest. He played under control and also contributed 7 assists and 6 boards. When Mirkovic plays like that Northwestern becomes very difficult to beat.
Tomorrow night Oklahoma State and Washington State face off for the right to play the Wildcats in the Regional Final with a berth to Madison Square Garden on the line. Even if Pullman, Washington wasn't in the middle of nowhere I think the 'Cats would much rather play the Cowboys. So root for a trip to Stillwater sometime in the middle of next week.

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