Michigan-Northwestern Preview

The Associated Press

Michigan's continued dominance at home has placed it in the thick of the Big Ten race, but it's going to have to start playing better on the road to stay there.

The 11th-ranked Wolverines go for their fourth straight win Tuesday night when they visit Northwestern.

Michigan improved to 15-0 at home with a 56-51 win over then-No. 6 Ohio State on Saturday, moving into a tie with the Buckeyes for second place in the conference, one game behind sixth-ranked Michigan State.

Freshman Trey Burke had another impressive game with a team-high 17 points - including a game-clinching runner with 11 seconds left - while Jordan Morgan added 11 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double.

The win was the team's fifth over a Top 25 opponent and third against a top-10 team. Michigan's ranking in Monday's AP poll is the highest since it was No. 8 on Dec. 30, 1996.

"I've never seen Crisler rocking like it was (Saturday)," senior Zack Novak said. "This was really special."

The Wolverines (20-7, 10-4) have held their last three opponents to an average of 52.7 points on 38.9 percent shooting.

To catch the Spartans, Michigan will need to turn its play away from Ann Arbor up a notch. The Wolverines play three of their final four games away from home, where they are 3-6. None of their final four opponents have a winning conference record, however.

Playing in Evanston, where Northwestern has won its last three by double digits, won't be easy. The Wildcats recorded a home win over the Spartans on Jan. 14 and nearly defeated the Wolverines in Ann Arbor on Jan. 11, losing 66-64 in overtime.

Michigan has also lost its last two visits to Welsh-Ryan Arena by a total of 29 points.

"I think our kids are pretty focused about taking each day as it comes," Wolverines coach John Beilein said of a possible letdown. "When you go on the road to play, it's always difficult - at Northwestern especially."

The Wildcats (16-10, 6-8), who could use another marquee win to boost their credentials for their first NCAA tournament bid, bounced back from losses at Purdue and Indiana with a 64-53 win over visiting Minnesota on Saturday.

Freshman Dave Sobolewski scored 22 points and John Shurna had 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and five blocks.

Shurna became the school's all-time leading scorer when he hit a 3-pointer midway through the second half. He has scored at least 15 points in 12 consecutive games and is leading the conference with 20.2 per game, including 24.3 in six games this month.

"Obviously it's an honor but I think it was more important that we won on our home court today against a good Minnesota team," Shurna said. "I wasn't really focused on trying to score points. ... We got key contributions from everyone."

Shurna scored 21 against the Wolverines last month, but the Wildcats came up short despite getting a good opportunity late. Tim Hardaway Jr. fouled Northwestern's Alex Marcotullio on a 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds, but the junior guard hit only one of three free throws.

Michigan will also be paying attention to Drew Crawford, who is fourth in the conference with 16.6 points per game. He scored 20 and had six rebounds against the Wolverines in January.

Hardaway, who's shooting 33.6 percent on the road, has averaged 18.0 points in his last two games versus Northwestern.

What to Read Next